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Books Cover: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

SFCC Library has multiple copies of the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on reserve for checkout. Stop by the Circulation Desk and ask for 616.0277 LACKS SKLOOT

Video Interview: Author, Rebecca Skloot

Video: Rebecca Skloot on 'Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'

Who Was Henrietta Lacks?

HENRIETTA LACKS (1920 - 1951) Born in Roanoke on 1 Aug. 1920, Henrietta Pleasant lived here with relatives after her mother's 1924 death. She married David Lacks in 1941 and, like many other African Americans, moved to Baltimore, Md. for wartime employment. She died of cervical cancer on 4 Oct. 1951. Cell tissue was removed without permission (as usual then) for medical research. Her cells multipled and survived at an extraordinarily high rate, and are renowned worldwide as the "HeLa line," the "gold standard" of cell lines. Jonas Salk developed his polio vaccine with them. Henrietta Lacks, who in death saved countless lives, is buried nearby.

Who was Henrietta Lacks
She was a black tobacco farmer from southern Virginia who got cervical cancer when she was 30. A doctor at Johns Hopkins took a piece of her tumor without telling her and sent it down the hall to scientists there who had been trying to grow tissues in culture for decades without success. No one knows why, but her cells never died.

About the Author

Rebecca Skloot


Born September 19, 1972, in Springfield, IL; daughter of Floyd Skloot (a writer) and Betsy McCarthy (a knit designer and instructor); companion of David Prete (in theater). Education: Colorado State University, B.S., 1997; University of Pittsburgh, M.F.A., 2008. Avocational Interests: Knitting. Memberships: American Society of Journalists and Authors, National Association of Science Writers, National Book Critics Circle (member of board of directors, 2003-08), Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

(Skloot has) worked as a veterinary technician and as correspondent for Radiolab, WNYC, and Nova ScienceNOW, Public Broadcasting System (PBS); Popular Science, New York, NY, associate editor, 2002-03, contributing editor, 2003--; New York University, New York, adjunct assistant professor of science, health, and environmental reporting, 2006-07; University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, assistant professor of English, 2007-10. Guest on television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, Colbert Report, and Fox Business News; guest on radio programs, including Fresh Air. Henrietta Lacks Foundation, founder and president.

Excerpted from: "Rebecca Skloot." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Biography In Context. Web.

The Oregonian: Like Father, like daughter: Rebecca Skloot follows her father's literary path