January 28, 2013 · 6:30 PM
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The SPDA book club will be meeting in January to discuss "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot.
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Book club meetings are generally held on the third Monday of every month, but due to the MLK holiday, and the length of the book, we will be meeting the 4th Monday in January.
Following the trend from the last meeting, we will all chip in to order pizzas, and I will supply the dessert.