NMU reads ‘The Immortal Life’

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University will host a Diversity Common Reader Program built around “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.

The book is about a poor Southern tobacco farmer and descendant of slaves whose cells were taken by doctors without her knowledge. Those cells, which remain alive more than 60 years after Lacks’ death, launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials. Her family never saw any profits and did not learn of Lacks’ “immortality” until long after she passed away.

A keynote event on April 15, will feature David “Sonny” Lacks, Henrietta’s son, and Veronica Spencer, her great-granddaughter. They will share their perspective on how the family was forever impacted by the collision of ethics, race and the commercialization of human tissue. The family members will be joined by Dr. Ruth Faden, executive director of Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Their presentation begins at 7 p.m. in Jamrich Hall 102.