The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Now a major HBO Film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black 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 modern medicine. Taken in 1951, these cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered the secrets of cancer, viruses and the effects of the atom bomb; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "coloured" wards of Johns Hopkins in the 1950s to poverty stricken tenements of East Baltimore today, where Henrietta's children are unable to afford health insurance. Their story is inextricably linked to the birth of bioethics, the rise of multi-billion dollar biotech industry, and the legal battles that determine if we own our bodies.
Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; Columbia Journalism Review; and elsewhere. She has also worked as a correspondent for National Public Radio and PBS.