Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Across the nation, universities are announcing their 2010 Common Reading selection. Many of them have selected The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Gallaudet University is no exception. Skloot's book has made its way into national and local papers, has become a best seller, and has library patrons waiting in haste!
 

At Gallaudet University, on February 24, 2010 as part of her national book tour, Skloot recounted the story of the late Henrietta Lacks, a woman scientists are familiar with based only on her cells since they were the first "immortal" human cells grown in culture. The visit was an emotional one for the author, who learned that in the 1950s, Gallaudet housed a school for black deaf students. Henrietta Lacks's children, some of whom were deaf and hard of hearing, lived in Baltimore during that time, yet the family was never aware of the school or a similar one in Baltimore. Instead, the children barely learned how to read and write after attending public schools that never accommodated their needs.
Gallaudet University's Denison House, a new student housing project that places a faculty member and graduate student with undergraduate students, will use The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as the centerpiece of its bioethics theme during the coming year.


While this isn't a traditional selection for my blog, it's a fascinating story that involves deaf individuals. I will post more about this during the year once the author visits campus.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1 edition edition (February 2, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1400052173
ISBN-13: 978-1400052172

1 comment:

Rolodexter said...

The story's most incredible because of the chance find that the researcher came across in the protagonist's cells. Her cells, it turns out, were taken from her without her consent or knowledge, and her kin only found out when the researchers needed more of them, and so consulted them about submitting to cell samplings. No one else in her family had these immortal cells that Lacks had, which went on to accomplish some of the most important research and findings in medical history (polio vaccine, important AIDS work, etc.).