Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman born in 1920 in Maryland. She died in 1951 and likely would not be someone about whom we would ever know anything except that the cervical cancer cells that would eventually kill her were taken from her when she was a patient at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. They were cultured and they not only lived outside her body, but they multiplied rapidly, proving hugely useful to the study of cells and pathology all over the world. Rebecca Skloot recreated Henrietta’s life in her recent book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
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