Blackwell Library
Important Information

A complimentary copy of the book is provided to all new students during Orientation 101 in June. *Purchase of the New Student Reader book is not necessary!

About This Book

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells – taken for research without her knowledge in 1951 – became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing vaccines, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more.

This New York Times bestseller takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. It is a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race and medicine and of scientific discovery and faith healing. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics and the legal battles over whether we control what we are made of.


Learn more about the book and its subject in the Library Guide.