Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Saturday morning reading

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

Lizzie rating: 5/5!!!

This book should be required reading. Skloot does an incredible job writing accessibly and comprehensively about the life of Henrietta Lacks and her family. Lacks was a poor Black woman treated at Johns Hopkins in the 1950s. A biopsy of her cervical cancer tumor was taken without her knowledge or consent and became the first immortal cell line grown in culture. Her widower and children lived in ignorance of her influence on science until the 1970s.

Working in medicine, this book was particularly interesting to me. Several of my faculty members have worked with the HeLa cell line and had varying levels of awareness of their origin. The book raises important questions around informed consent, the ethics of tissue collection, and access to health care. Skloot artfully weaves the story of the Lacks family with the concurrent developments in science largely driven by Henrietta’s cells.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  1. Pingback: 2014 Goals: January | Liz Takes the World

  2. Pingback: 2014 Goals: End of the Year Retrospective | Liz Takes the World

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