Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

As a student in the School of Information (and a hopeful future academic health sciences librarian!), I feel it is only appropriate to use this blog to share book suggestions related to the health science fields.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - 2012 All Campus Read by Kraemer Family Library (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – 2012 All Campus Read by Kraemer Family Library (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

I highly recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I read this book in 2010 to support the Go Big Read program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rebecca Skloot‘s book investigates the woman, and her family, behind HeLA cells.  Henrietta Lack’s cells have been used to advance medical knowledge and treatment since they were taken, without her knowledge, in 1951.  The book raises many questions about bioethics , medicine, and race.  In August of 2013, NIH came to an agreement with the Lacks family about sharing the genomic data of HeLa cells.

These cells have already been used extensively in scientific research and have helped make possible some of the most important medical advances of the past 60 years. These include the development of modern vaccines, cancer treatments, in vitro fertilization techniques, and many others. HeLa cells are the most widely used human cell lines in existence today. Access to the whole genome data of these cells will be a valuable reference tool for researchers using HeLa cells in their research. (NIH news release)

If you are interested in learning more about Henrietta Lack’s, please consider visiting the following sites: Henrietta Lacks Foundation, The Lacks Family Webpage, and Hopkin’s Medicine Magazine.

Next Book Club Entry: I am currently finishing Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande; I chose this title after hearing Dr. Rajesh Mangrulkar mention it during my first medical education session with M1 students in the Learning Resource Center.  (Also, with some sleuthing, I found out that Dr. Gawande was the commencement speaker at UMMS in 2008.) If you want to read along, request a copy from Mirlyn or AADL.

Bookshelf by Ashley van Dyck, from The Noun Project, CC By 3.0

Bookshelf by Ashley van Dyck, from The Noun Project, CC By 3.0

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