THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS WITH REBECCA SKLOOT
Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 7:30 pm
Venue: Nourse Theater
Series: Conversations on Science
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family cannot afford health insurance. Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story 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’re made of. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will be made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball in 2017.
Rebecca Skloot specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, and food politics. Her award-winning science writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Discover. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s NOVA ScienceNOW. Skloot and her father, Floyd Skloot, co-edited The Best American Science Writing 2011.