Rebecca Skloot comes to Western April 10
WWU University Communications and Marketing
Rebecca Skloot, New York Times bestselling author of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," will speak at Western Washington University April 10 as part of Western Reads.
Tickets for the talk in the PAC Concert Hall will go on sale March 11.
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is the ninth annual book selected in the Western Reads program. Western Reads is sponsored by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services and by New Student Services/Family Outreach.
All new freshman and transfer students at Western received complimentary copies of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” at orientation and are invited to participate in a variety of Western Reads activities during the academic year, including discussions, faculty presentations and guest lectures.
The award winning creative non-fiction book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” details the life of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cells were taken without her knowledge or consent by Johns Hopkins Hospital, in 1951, and which became the first cultured cells to survive in a lab.
Though Lacks died eight months after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 31, her cells continue to live in medical labs around the world. Today, the HeLa cells as they are known have been generated by the billions to support medical research within the biotech industry. The cells have led to a cure for polio and have supported cancer research and studies in virology, while also opening up the fields of in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. The HeLa cells are considered to be one of the greatest “discoveries” of the 20th century.
Yet, Henrietta Lacks’ children did not find out about their mother’s “contribution to science” until 1973, at which time the family was struggling financially, had significant health problems, and was unable to afford medical insurance in the United States. To this day, the Lacks family has never received compensation for their mother’s cells from Johns Hopkins Hospital or from the billion-dollar biotech industry, which has bought and sold 50 metric tons of Henrietta Lacks’ cells.
Rebecca Skloot is an award winning science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Discover and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. Her next project explores the bond between humans and animals.