The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Random House LCC US
, 2011 - Medical
- 460 pages
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 important tool of medicine. The first 'immortal' human cells grown in culture, they were still alive in 2010, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. Now Rebecca Skloot takes readers from the 'colored' ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s hometown of Clover, Virginia - a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo - to East Baltimore, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' aims to capture the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.