Brown Bag Book Discussion Group will meet on Wednesday, January 8th at 1:00 PM in the Middlebury Public Library’s Meeting Room to discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The group is reading this in conjunction with the Avon Free Public Library’s series of events regarding The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, including “A Conversation With the Lacks Family” on Friday, March 14th at the Avon Free Library. For further information, please contact Donna at 203-758-2634.
“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 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. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the ‘colored’ ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.”
(Image and book description provided courtesy of www.goodreads.com)