One Book One Springfield

Our first read:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

A detective story. A case of medical ethics. The story of a family.

Baltimore, 1951: Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman, dies of cervical cancer. Samples of her tumor, taken without her knowledge or consent, survive and reproduce.

Her cells play a role in developing polio vaccines. They travel into space. They spawn a multi-billion dollar industry and become a foundation of modern science, leading to breakthroughs in gene mapping, cloning, in-vitro fertilization, the study of viruses, and cancer research. HeLa cells save lives.

But who was Henrietta Lacks? How did she live? What did she leave behind? How did her unknowing contribution impact her family and the rest of the world?

Author Rebecca Skloot uncovers the real woman, her family, and the real story behind her anonymous and unintentional contribution to science.

Book Discussion in partnership with the Springfield Foundation

Wednesday, Dec. 12th 2012 at 7pm

Springfield Township High School Library

Discussion led by Dr. Paul Neumann (Chestnut Hill Hospital) and STHS Voices of Excellence.


About the Author

Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Discover; O; and others. She worked as a correspondent for NPR's Radiolab and PBS's NOVA ScienceNOW, and is a contributing editor at Popular Science, and guest editor of The Best American Science Writing 2011. Skloot is a former Vice President of the National Book Critics Circle and has taught creative nonfiction and science journalism at the University of Memphis, the University of Pittsburgh, and New York University.

Her debut book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, took more than ten years to research and write, and became an instant New York Times bestseller. (
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - Official Trailer