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SU?common reading selection chosen

By Staff | Apr 13, 2012

The Shepherd University Common Reading program has selected “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot for the 2012-13 academic year.

It was chosen from five semifinalists via voting on the Shepherd University website. Events will be planned around the topics covered in the book.

All events, except the annual Common Reading Dinner, are free and open to the public.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” features Henrietta Lacks, who scientists know as HeLa.

She is poor and black in the 1950. Her cells-taken without her knowledge or permission-become one of the most important tools in medicine.

The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive though she has been dead for more than 60 years.

HeLa’s cells were vital in developing the polio vaccine; uncovering secrets of cancer, viruses and the atom bomb’s effects; space exploration; and in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping.

Although Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave, her cells have launched a multimillion dollar industry that sells human biological materials.

For more information about the Common Reading Program, contact Judi McIntyre at jcmintyr@shepherd.edu or 304-876-5396.