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Common Theme and Community Read

About the 2013-14 Read

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"the immortal life of henrietta lacks

The work is the true story of Henrietta Lacks' cells, which have been used over the past 60-plus years in numerous worldwide scientific discoveries. Henrietta 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, and in-vitro fertilization, to name just a few.

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" crosses countless disciplines including anthropology, law, business, cultural diversity studies, public health, history, nursing, biology, engineering, allied health, and communications.

Relevant themes include medical ethics, civil rights, intellectual property, poverty, family, women, the 1950s, race issues, gender issues, and religion

"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 or not we control the stuff we're made of.