Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells, taken without her knowledge became one of the most important tools in medical research. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, 60 years after Henrietta Lack’s death. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine, uncovering secrets of cancer, and helped lead to important medical advances such as In Vitro Fertilization, cloning and gene mapping. Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950’s to East Baltimore today, where Henrietta’s family struggles with her legacy.
The Syosset Public Library Monthly Book Club will be meeting on Tuesday, March 29th at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to discuss “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. This fascinating book has been named as one of the best books of 2010 on over 60 different Best of the Year lists including Library Journal, The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews and the Washington Post. Copies of the book can be found at the Circulation desk on the first floor.
– posted by Lisa J., Readers’ Services