October Science Read: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

October, science read, Henrietta Lacks, cells, science, human biology, black woman, Rebecca Skloot, medical

October’s 2016 science read is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time and that’s Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It’s also one of the first books I placed on my list of science reads and I’m psyched that I’m finally getting to read it!

The book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer and mother of five from Baltimore who died of cervical cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors took a sample of her cancerous tissue to study. Her cells became the first human cells to thrive in a lab and gave scientists a way to make several medical breakthroughs, including cloning, gene mapping and developing a vaccine for polio. These cells were known as the HeLa cells and were the first human biological material to be bought and sold, paving the way to a multibillion dollar industry while Henrietta’s family continued to live in poverty and with no access to health insurance.

I’ve heard so many good things about this book and I’m looking forward to finally reading it. I’ll be back in a month’s time with my review of it!

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