January’s Book Club Selection

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

Cover image of the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca SklootHenrietta Lacks should have been proud of her contributions to modern medicine. Her human cells were the first to be grown in culture, and were instrumental in helping to develop the polio vaccine, for cancer research, the research of various viruses, and to better understand the effects of the atomic bomb on humans. Her cells now number in the billions, and continue to help researchers develop in vitro fertilization, cloning and genetic mapping—yet Miss Lacks died more than 20 years ago, never knowing what her contributions to science were. Her husband and children only became aware of this research when they too were used for research, without their knowledge or consent. Rebecca Skloot takes us on a journey of discovery to find out who Henrietta Lacks was, where she came from, and how she came to be so instrumental in modern medical research. Along the way we learn how Henrietta’s family also became involved in this research, and what the consequences have been for this family of modest means, who themselves can barely afford health care.

The Mt. Pleasant Library Book Club will next meet Wednesday, February 1, at 7 p.m. at La Casa, located right next door to the interim library. For more information, please contact Ana Elisa de Campos Salles at anaelisa.decampossalles@dc.gov or call 202-671-3122.