Common Book: 2014–2015

Photo of Rebecca Skloot c Manda Townsend
Rebecca Skloot Photo by Manda Townsned.

CEHD Reads Common Book for Fall 2014 will be The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. The featured book for CEHD Reads tells the story of Henrietta Lacks (known by scientists as HeLa). Lacks grew up poor in a tobacco farming community in Clover, Virginia. When she became ill with cancer at a young age, she visited Johns Hopkins hospital for treatment. In 1951 cancerous cells were taken from her body without her knowledge. Those cells became a critical tool in multiple medical advancements, including the polio vaccine, cloning, and gene mapping. The HeLa cells have been bought and sold around the world, but Lacks family cannot afford health insurance. Skloot’s book raises critical questions about race, ethics and scientific discovering.

CEHD first year students will read Skloot’s book in PsTL 1525W, as they explore various ways to respond to the question: Can One Person Make a Difference?


© 2009 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer
Last modified on May 21, 2013.