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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot, Rebecca (Book - 2010 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of--From publisher description.
Authors: Skloot, Rebecca, 1972-
Title: The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: x, 369 p., [8] p. of plates :,ill. (some col.) ;,25 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Rebecca Skloot
Summary: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of--From publisher description.
ISBN: 9781400052172
1400052173
Branch Call Number: 616.02774092 S6287i 2010
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Headings: Lacks, Henrietta, 1920-1951 Health Cancer Patients Virginia Biography African American women History Human experimentation in medicine United States History HeLa cells Cancer Research Cell culture Medical ethics
Topical Term: Cancer
African American women
Human experimentation in medicine
HeLa cells
Cancer
Cell culture
Medical ethics
LCCN: 2009031785
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From Library Staff

Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer and in 1951, as a young mother, she was dying of cervical cancer when cells from her tumor were taken and cultured without her permission. Those cells went on to be cultured millions of times, studied by scientists around the world, and fostering ma... Read More »

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine.

Much talked about in the news, this is an excellently written nonfiction work about the Lacks family and their connection to "the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of."

Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. The stor... Read More »


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Jul 30, 2014
  • FedoraJoesph rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

it wasn't too bad not really my type of book but otherwise i enjoyed it

Our book club read this as our June read and I found it quite informative

Jun 29, 2014
  • PBrierley_96 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This was a page turner that I could not put down. Rebecca Skloot is a gifted writer who brings this woman back to life and honours her memory with a lively and meticulously detailed story of Henrietta's life, the lives of her children and the innumerable scientific benefits derived from Henrietta's cells.

The people behind the story are fascinating. The science is fascinating. The history is fascinating and the icky sticky ethical issues surrounding this kind of research is fascinating. I cannot recommend this book enough. This is an important story and everyone needs to read this book!

Jun 20, 2014
  • odettewright rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A wonderful book, intriguing, touching, provocative. Highly recommended.

May 09, 2014
  • modestgoddess rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Really enjoyed this. Very readably written account of Henrietta Lacks and HeLa, the cells taken from her body that just keep growing and growing and fuelling science research all over the world.... Skloot takes the reader into the personal stories around the cells, as well as touching on all the cells have done to advance medical science. It's amazing. Make sure someone you know reads it when you do, so you have someone to talk with about it - you'll want to!

Very interesting story about this womans life and death and her families fight for compensation from the scientific community.

Apr 25, 2014
  • smasciola84 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An amazing true story that blends aspects of science, health care, racial struggles, ethics, poverty, and family dynamics.

The science intrigued me. The family made my heart ache.

Read it for a book club. Some loved it, some hated it.

Mar 08, 2014
  • ehbooklover rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

An eye opening, enlightening, and often heartbreaking read that raises many important questions about scientific research, ethics, race, and class. Unfortunately, the first half of the book was a great deal more interesting than the second half and this unevenness kept me from really loving it.

Feb 27, 2014
  • MissEavis rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wow! What a book, an excellent blend of story and science. I picked up this book for the story of Henrietta and her family. The author included herself in the book, and her bumpy journey to collect information about the family. One of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading :-)

Dec 29, 2013
  • Shelbi27 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Loved this book. It was the perfect blend of science information (which I normally get bored of quickly) and biography. Hard to put down.

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Feb 24, 2011
  • Algonquin_Lisa rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A black woman's self-perpetuating cancer cells live past her own shortened life, providing doctors and scientists with an unparalleled opportunity to do nearly unlimited research. Her family, however, was unaware her cells were ever collected. In this book author Rebecca Skloot takes them on a journey to learn the extent to which their mother's cells changed the face of cancer research forever. Fascinating, and possibly the best work of nonfiction I've ever read.

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Jul 08, 2013
  • BookWormChelly rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“But I tell you one thing, I don't want to be immortal if it mean living forever, cause then everybody else just die and get old in front of you while you stay the same, and that's just sad.”

Apr 03, 2013
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -George Washington

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Mar 25, 2014
  • EricaReynoldsNYC rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Scientist David Spector Presenting on HeLa Cells

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Scientist David Spector Presenting on HeLa Cells

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book trailer

Commentary by the author shows just how passionate she was to bring this story out to the world; it's no wonder it made so many "best books" lists in 2010.

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Version tobio (tobio) Last updated 2014/09/24 12:25