book hack

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks unravels the story of a woman whose cells led to many medical breakthroughs, highlighting the exploitation endured by people of color in the scientific community.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot


If you were to walk into any biomedical laboratory right now, you'd come across HeLa cells. HeLa cells are one of the most important tools in modern medicine. They've helped across the board, from finding a cure for polio, to discovering AIDs, to cancer treatments.

These miracle cells were discovered during the 1950s. However, the story of the woman behind these cells is often overlooked, when it should be openly discussed in order to solve many ethical flaws that prevail among the scientific community.

Rebecca Skloot is a writer specializing in science and medicine. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, she unravels the deep importance of Lacks's life and heritage. Enduring racism in the U.S. has led to abuse in the medical field, especially when it comes to the exploitation of Black people's cells and bodies 'in the name of science.'

Favorite quote

Henrietta's cells were different: they reproduced an entire generation every twenty-four hours, and they never stopped. They became the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory.

- Rebecca Skloot

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