Join us on Wednesday, February 25 at 7pm at the library for a book discussion of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Cancerous cells taken from Henrietta’s body in 1951 soon before she died became central to biomedical research throughout the world, even though her own family went for decades without knowing anything about her fame. This is a remarkable story of how the cells of a poor black woman enabled further discoveries; from the polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization. The author’s added portrayal of Lacks’s full life makes the story come alive with humanity and the apparent relationship between race, science, and exploitation. Rebecca Skloot first heard about Henrietta Lacks and “HeLa cells” in a community college biology class when she was 16. She spent over a decade researching and writing this story, which has been translated into over 25 languages and is now being made into an HBO movie.
Our book discussion is being moderated by Dana Waring Bateman, co-founder and Education Director of the Personal Genetics Education Project housed in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
Ten copies of Skloots book are available to library patrons due to a generous donation from Cornerstones of Science. In our discussion, Dana will get us to look at ethical and social issues in genetics, including who owns your DNA, how genetics is impacting health care, and how Lacks and her family have advanced the discussion about privacy and informed consent. Please join us, whether you’ve read the book or not. Wednesday, February 25 at 7pm in the Kendall Room.