The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

SynopsisHer 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, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller 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.


Published: February 2010 | ISBN-13: 978-0307888440

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My all-time favourite ‘women in science’ book is ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’. It’s not Australian at all, but I think this is the most important science book I’ve ever read. An essential for those whose role it is to commercialising science. This is a story about the commercialisation of science and the ethical and functional boundaries we need to consider. This is a story about the woman who is the HeLa cell line. Henrietta has contributed to saving the life of millions if not billions of people over time. It’s also a story about equity, race and the critical role of volunteers in science and research. – Michelle Gallaher from 10 Great Books on Women in Science

New York Times Book Review
Washington Post Book Review
The Telegraph Book Review
Not Exactly Rocket Science Book Review

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