The critically acclaimed nonfiction book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will come to life at Delaware State University where members of the Lacks Family will discuss the issues raised in the book during a guest speaker event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Mar. 5 in the Education and Humanities Theater on campus.
The event – which is part of the DSU Division of Student Affairs’ Make Your Mark Speaker Series – is free and open to the public.
Henrietta Lacks’ daughter-in-law Shirley Lacks and her great-granddaughter Victoria Baptiste will speak at the event about the Lacks Family’s story and Henrietta Lacks’ legacy.
The book by Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951), an African-American woman born in Roanoke, Va. and later an adult resident of Maryland. After being diagnosed with cancer, without her knowledge she became the source of cells from her cancerous tumor that were cultured to create the first known human immortal cell line.
Known as the HeLa cell line, since the 1950s it has been used for a wide variety of medical research, such as to test the first polio vaccine, numerous virus and cancer studies, the use of novel heptamethine dyes and many other projects.
The book – which was selected to be DSU’s One Book, One Campus feature selection for the 2013-2014 school year – has been acclaimed for its accessible science writing and for dealing with the ethical issues of race and class in medical research.