On HeLa Cells & AMPHL Membership Fees

An Important Update from AMPHL's President



Just this past May of 2018, a portrait of Henrietta Lacks was added to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.  As you may be aware, Henrietta was a woman of African American descent whose cells (HeLa) fueled the thinking that led to treatments for a long list of pathological conditions, including leukemia, Parkinson’s, influenza, and hemophilia, among others. 

Unlike today, no consent was needed or obtained to culture Henrietta’s cells.  Her family was never compensated, nor made aware – until many years later – that HeLa cells were extracted and studied extensively.  Like guinea pigs and mice, HeLa cells have become a staple in research labs worldwide [1].  Henrietta’s contributions have hovered prominently in the background of modern medical research.  On the right is the portrait of Henrietta that is on display in the hall devoted to portraits of most-influential people. 

© 2017 Kadir Nelson. Collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History & Culture, Gift from Kadir Nelson and the JKBN Group, LLC

© 2017 Kadir Nelson. Collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History & Culture, Gift from Kadir Nelson and the JKBN Group, LLC

Similarly, AMPHL, in many ways, operates in the background, supported solely by donations.  Powered by volunteers, AMPHL has – like HeLa cells – helped to define and organize a new paradigm of thinking. 

AMPHL stands ever at the ready to provide advocacy, information, mentorship, and networking opportunities for those with hearing loss and accessibility service providers.  As we approach 20 years since AMPHL’s founding, we find ourselves in an exciting era.  The number of healthcare providers with hearing loss is growing.  Our most recent conference had a record number 330+ attendees.  We also now have 1,300+ individuals on the AMPHL Private Facebook Group page.  Our future is bright. 

In order to ensure the fiscal sustainability of our organization and its continued growth, it is time for us to take further action.  It is with great necessity that the AMPHL Board has decided to implement membership fees prior to our upcoming 2019 conference in Baltimore.  Organization membership dues will not only pay for our yearly non-profit insurance premiums, website maintenance, costs associated with conferences, and provision of scholarships, to name a few – it will also provide expanded benefits to you:

  • Membership discounts to AMPHL conferences
  • Discounted memberships for students
  • Subscription to the Journal of American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (JADARA) and the opportunity for AMPHL to contribute at least three peer-reviewed articles a year in the journal
  • Opportunities to apply for merit-based scholarships to attend AMPHL conferences
  • Online access to a cache of health care articles/references involving those with hearing loss as well as accommodation providers working in the healthcare fields (to be available in a members-only section of the AMPHL website in early 2020)
  • Opportunity to participate in a formal AMPHL mentorship process in your field
  • The AMPHL blog will continue to be free, but only members will be able to access the archives (> 6 months).
  • Access to the private AMPHL Facebook group
  • Solicitation announcements via personal email for general professional development (i.e., research, publishing, presentation opportunities)
  • Access to a private publication of consenting health care providers with hearing loss

Look closely at Henrietta’s portrait above, and you will notice that there are two missing buttons.  The artist chose to omit the buttons to represent her undisclosed, unrewarded, and silent contributions, which made a profound impact in medical treatment.  Look at the silhouettes of healthcare providers below.  If you picture a healthcare provider with hearing loss in your mind’s eye, it is easy to imagine someone who – unknowingly by the public – has had great influence on health equity and cultural change for both providers and patients alike. 


Although our contributions are sometimes unseen, they are still without a doubt – like HeLa cells – creating change in the world.  We would like to invite you to stay on the journey!  The link below is your opportunity to share your thoughts on how we can continue to offer our ongoing support.  Your responses will remain confidential, and we will go with the option that receives the most votes.  Thank you for your time!  Onward and forward!


Jaime A.B. Wilson, Ph.D., LP, is AMPHL’s 2017-2019 President.  Dr. Wilson is a licensed clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist. As part of the work in his private practice (Wilson Clinical Services, PLLC.), Dr. Wilson conducts comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations. The field of neuropsychology is dedicated to learning about and diagnosing conditions related to the brain and nervous system.

1. Skloot, R. (2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown/Random House.