Stolen Genes

Award-Winning Author Speaks About Her Bestselling Book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

What would you do if you discovered that one of your family members’ genes had been harvested for medical testing without her knowledge? Well, that’s exactly what happened to Henrietta Lacks’s family—more than 20 years after her death. Award-winning science and medical writer Rebecca Skloot uncovers Lacks’s story in her best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which chronicles the history of “HeLa,” the first immortal human cells grown in culture. HeLa cells helped develop the polio vaccine and aided in the success of in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. And while biotech companies have profited millions from HeLa, many of Lacks’s descendants live in poverty. Skloot will speak Monday, April 11, at 8 p.m. at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $5 for students. For more info, call 893-3535 or visit


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