Meet the author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine and Discover. She is also the founder and president of the Henrietta Lacks Foundation and has taught creative writing and science journalism at the University of Memphis, the University of Pittsburgh and New York University.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the fascinating and thought-provoking story of Henrietta Lacks, born in 1920 in Clover, Virginia. In 1951, Henrietta developed a strangely aggressive cancer and doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital took tissue samples without her knowledge. Henrietta died without knowing that her cells would become immortal – the first cells to grow and regenerate indefinitely in tissue culture. HeLa cells, have facilitated some of the most important scientific achievements of the past half century, including the polio vaccine, in-vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping. To this day, HeLa is the most widely used cell line in labs worldwide, bought and sold by the billions.
Henrietta’s family knew nothing about her “immortality” or the enormous profits her cells had generated until more than 20 years after her death. The Lacks family struggled with a mixture of pride, betrayal and fear as they discovered the truth.
In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot brilliantly weaves together the Lacks family’s story – past and present – with the story of the first culturing of HeLa cells, the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, and the birth of bioethics. A combination of crystalline science writing, investigative reporting and riveting narrative, this book leaves as indelible an impression as Henrietta’s cells.
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Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium
325 Superior Ave., N.E.
Cleveland, OH 44114