You can thank Henrietta Lacks:
If you know your blood type
If you have had a measles or mumps vaccine, and you had better, by golly, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If you used a beaker or glass slide during a science experiment at any point in your education or professional career, whether as a researcher, scientist or Etsy artsy recycler, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If you have ever seen a photograph of a chromosome, and I know you have, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If the term "Iron Lung" conjures fear or if you don’t have polio, or survived it, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If you know someone who has had undergone invitro fertilization or gene therapy, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If you know about Herceptin, a cancer treatment drug, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If you are familiar with HPV, Human papillomavirus, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
If you enjoy the NPR show/podcast Science Friday hosted by Ira Flato, you can thank Henrietta Lacks
Hands down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is one of the most important contemporary books of the early 2000s.
If you have not yet read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, as Chapter Endnotes did in December 2010, then stop reading this and get your hands on that book. I suggest your local library or bookstore.
If you have read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, then you'll be pleased to know that HBO will broadcast the film adaptation on April 22.
I scoff at using the second person "you" in my recommendation of Rebecca Skloot's book. That's how strongly I feel about the importance of reading and discussing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Skloot delves into issues of ethics, race, family, science, history and journalism. The old saying, "no good deed goes unpunished," certainly applies to Skloot, as members of the Lacks family are divided on the her portrayal of Henrietta and the income and fame derived from the book's publication. The author's first class journalistic diligence is evident throughout the book. However the family settles the issue is their matter. For us, the world's recipients and benefactors of the immortal "HeLa" cells medicinal, virological, scientific, biological and ethical bounty, I give thanks.
Check out my latest Chapter Endnotes NPR 89.9-FM WJCT Book Club discussion with Melissa Ross .