For the last 60 years, huge medical advances were made with the cells of Henrietta Lacks, a poor, African-American mother of five, who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. For many years after her passing, the Lacks family had no idea their matriarch’s cells generated some of the greatest medical discoveries—and research profits—of our generation. But recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that the agency will finally recognize Lacks’s family with a series of past-due acknowledgements and an agreement to remove her cells from the public domain, the Grio reported.

Journalist Rebecca Skloot first chronicled Henrietta Lacks’s story in 2010 with a best-selling, award-winning book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Before Lacks died, a research team at Johns Hopkins University took a sample of tissue from her cervix without her permission. The team later found they were able to grow the cells in Petri dishes outside the human body, a major scientific breakthrough at the time.

Lacks’s cells fueled a line called HeLa cells that was integral in developing the first vaccines for polio, expanding cancer and AIDS research and helping create vaccines for dogs, cats and other animals, among many others uses.

But despite the billions of dollars the line of HeLa cells have generated over the years, the agreement doesn’t include any financial compensation to the Lackses. The family said it sees the acknowledgement as a moral and ethical victory.

Under a new agreement, Lacks’s genetic data will be made available only to those who are granted permission by an NIH board, on which two representatives from her family will serve. Those granted permission must acknowledge the Lacks family in their publications.

For more information about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Oprah’s upcoming HBO movie, click here.