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An Evening with Rebecca Skloot and Members of the Lacks Family

EVT 544
Apr 19
7:30 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, GSB Knight Management Center
Status: Get Tickets
Please note: Registration information is different than what is published in the catalogue. The event organizers established a free ticket registration system after the catalogue went to press. For inquiries, please contact the event organizers, The Medicine and the Muse program, at 650-723-5760. We apologize for any inconveniences.

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman whose tumor cells were preserved for research in the early 1950s. These cells became the first lab-grown human cells that were naturally “immortal,” not dying after a number of divisions. Thereafter, they were used for a large variety of experiments, becoming one of the most important discoveries in medical research. It is now known as the HeLa line, named after the first two letters of the donor’s first and last names, and remains in high demand by the scientific community.

However, these cells were taken from Lacks without her knowledge or consent. Neither she nor her family was ever compensated for their use, and the Lacks family was not even aware of HeLa’s existence until the mid-1970s. Since then, knowledge of its origins has spread far and wide, ensuring its legacy not only in terms of scientific advances but also in biomedical ethics and the concerns of privacy and patients’ rights.

The evening will include a discussion and a question-and-answer session with Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and members of the Lacks family about how these issues have impacted them personally, as we consider how they have impacted us and our technology-driven society as a whole.

This event is co-sponsored by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Medicine & the Muse Program, Stanford Continuing Studies, and Stanford Storytelling Project.

Rebecca Skloot, Author

Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science author who has explored a wide range of topics including food, politics, race, and medicine. Her debut book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than seven years. She lives in Chicago and is working on a new book about humans, animals, science, and ethics.
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