Invitation to book discussion for “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

April 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm 21 comments

A book discussion on “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” will be held on Tuesday, May 18 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. in Harwick 1-13.  In her book, Rebecca Skloot provides the fascinating background of a young African-American cancer patient whose biopsy provided medical scientists the first immortal cells.  This biopsy was cultured into a line called HeLa Cells after the initial letters in her first and last names.

In just 60 years since her death, HeLa cells have changed the course of medicine.  The cells provided the essential ingredient that contributed to the development of the fields of Virology, Genetic Medicine, Genetic Hybrids, Clones, and Nanotechnology.  They have made the work behind two Nobel Prize awards possible.  However, her cells are increasingly the focal point for ethical and social/justice discourse in medicine as they remain today a substantial source of profit for corporations, and provide some of the essential materials used by thousands of medical researchers.  In spite of the wealth these cells have produced in medicine, many of Ms. Lack’s siblings, children and grandchildren continue to live in poverty, and without health insurance.

The discussion will be led by Eddie Greene, M.D., and Dawn Littleton.  Please contact either for additional information about the book, or for a list of questions that will shape the discussion of the HeLa cell phenomenon and conundrum. Copies of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” are available for checkout from the Learning Resource Center (119 Mitchell Student Center), and the Luther Midelfort Library (Eau Claire WI).

UPDATED 2/15/11 to reflect that no discussion questions are available.

Entry filed under: News Bytes. Tags: , , .

NLM Updates Mayo Clinic to Host Medical History Meetings

21 Comments

  • 1. Grace M Arteaga  |  May 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    This is a great book!! The historical background provides a new view to all of us who have worked with HeLa cells.

  • 2. Susan Carleton  |  May 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Open to all Mayo Clinic staff, students and employees? I don’t work with HeLa cells, but I’m interested!

  • 3. mlrethlefsen  |  May 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Yes, it is open to all Mayo Clinic staff, students, and employees! We hope to see you there.

  • 4. Ann Farrell  |  May 10, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Any chance you can videotape this discussion? We will be reading this book for our book club later this year.

  • 5. Dawn Littleton  |  May 10, 2010 at 8:24 am

    All Mayo staff, students and faculty are invited …as there are so many personal and scientific twists and turns and “tissue issues” , we are asking that all participants read the book in its entirety – Please let me know if I can help you track down a copy (either through the Library or through the Library Bookstore).

  • 6. darlene kaufman  |  May 23, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hello, Any chance of getting the questions you asked ? I am presenting this book at my book club on Wed, the 26th of May. Wish I had seen this notice earlier. I loved the book. There are so many ways to go on for a discussion. Thank you for your time. Darlene Kaufman

  • 7. Dawn Littleton  |  May 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Darlene,
    Ahead of time, we asked all participants to pick out a passage from the book that meant something to them in an emotional, scientific, ethical or other way that was truly striking to them. Each person read their own selection and then offered what it might mean to medicine, to the Lack’s extended family, to research, or to our work or personal lives. This “exercise” created the whole evening and led to very meaningful discussion with many participants asking if can we do this again. I hope you have a good discussion tomorrow.
    — Dawn Littleton

  • 8. Denise  |  May 26, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Darlene, I’m presenting this book at my book club, Wed 2nd June. I’ve also been try to find discussion questions. Would you mind if I have the questions you used? I’d appreciate it so much as the book covers such a diversity of issues. I loved the book and think we should have a great discussion.
    Thank you.
    Denise

  • 9. Patrisha House  |  June 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Was wondering if you would share discussion questions. My book club is meeting tomorrow June 7? Thanks. pat

  • 10. Lisa  |  June 9, 2010 at 6:21 am

    We have book club this evening and I was wondering the same thing. Could I get a list of questions thay would lead to a great discussion?

  • 11. Dawn Littleton  |  June 9, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Lisa, Instead of using questions, we decided to ask all participants to pick out a passage from the book that meant something to them in an emotional, scientific, ethical or other way that was truly striking to them. Each person read their own selection and then offered what it might mean to medicine, to the Lack’s extended family, to their own research, or to our work, personal or social lives. This “exercise” created the whole evening and led to very meaningful discussion (which went longer than planned) with many participants asking if can we do this again. There is succinct information (with charts) in a Wired article called “Henrietta Everlasting” http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/01/st_henrietta/ – I hope you have/had a good book club discussion. Dawn

  • 12. Susan Carleton  |  June 9, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I’m sorry I missed this and do hope you have another. I unexpectedly had to work late.

  • 13. Brittney  |  July 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Hi! I’m also searching for discussion questions for my book club tomorrow night? Did any of you come up with or come upon questions to guide your discussion? I’d be extremely grateful if you wouldn’t mind sharing. Thanks so much for your help!

  • 14. Marcy  |  July 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Would it be possible to get a copy of the discussion questions for my book club. We are meeting this Thursday. Thank you!!

  • 15. Michele Mims  |  August 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Would it be possible to get a copy of the discussion questions for my book club.

  • 16. Dawn Littleton  |  August 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Hi Michele,

    Please see the August 5, LibLog article for how our Henrietta Lacks discussion took place. We eventually did not use the questions, but did ask people to read outload a section of the story that meant a lot to them, then describe or explain why it meant a lot. We also discussed the impacts of how her life and her cells affected medicine, us as individuals, and her family.

    I hope you have a good discussion. Dawn

  • 17. Carol Heidebrecht  |  October 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Was there a list of questions compiled on this book. I’m leading the discussion for our book club and would love some input.
    Thanks!
    Carol

  • 18. Marcy H  |  October 30, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Would it be possible to receive a copy of your discussion questions for my book club next week? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much!

  • 19. Thomas  |  November 8, 2010 at 8:41 am

    This is really a fascinating story. I read on this when it came out as a feature in Yahoo News many months ago. Yes, this article is quite right in insinuating that the siblings of Henrietta Lack were not compensated for the contribution of their mother and grandmother.

    This is the very symbol of medical greed to the highest degree!

  • 20. Dr. Peg Slusser  |  January 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    If you could share your discussion questions, that would be great. I will be happy to give you credit and feedback. Thanks. Peg

  • 21. Pat Rhoad  |  February 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Would be glad to pay for discussion questions. Thank you.



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