May 152010

Cells from Henrietta Lacks’ cancerous cervix were the first to ever be cultured in a lab in perpetuity making the woman they came from in some ways immortal.  The cells were taken just before her death and without her permission thereby becoming on the one hand a source of great scientific richness and on the other the bane of her surviving, very poor, largely uneducated African American family.  Skloot does an excellent job of explaining the science and personalizing the plight of a family overwhelmed by America’s medical research establishment.

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