Annotated Bibliography-Subject Henrietta Lacks

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Bloom, Stacie. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." Rev. of Book. Journal of Clinical Investigation 7th ser. 120 (2010): 2252. ProQuest. Web. 26 Mar. 2012.

Dr. Stacie Bloom was surprised at how much she enjoyed reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. She assumed the book would be “beneath her”. After all, what could a book about HeLa cells written for the layperson teach an accomplished Director of Science (at the NY Academy of Sciences) with an extensive background in cell and molecular biology (that she didn’t already know)? Already somewhat familiar with Skloot’s reputation as a science writer for the NY Academy of Sciences, Bloom decided to give the book a chance. She discovered a narrative that both “amazed” and excited her. The story focused on the back-story of HeLa cells by interweaving a narrative between “Henrietta Lacks”, a poor African American mother with five small children, and the cancerous cells that wreaked havoc on her body. These cells had the rare “heartiness” required to survive in culture, resulting in the first robust human cell line. The consequence of this “immortality” would change just about everything as to how scientific research was conducted, specifically with viruses and viral disease. In Skloot’s careful and factual approach, Bloom also sees the impact this discovery had on Henrietta’s children, raising important ethical and legal questions about the way doctors conduct research and on whom. Bloom deduces that the medical advances (from the HeLa cell line) have made millions for pharmaceuticals and manufactures of biological materials and laboratory equipment. She mentions the lack of financial compensation given to Lacks’ children and sites that they were “too poor to even buy a headstone” and unable to afford basic health insurance. Bloom calls their plight “heartbreaking” and seems truly moved by their dilemma to understand “HeLa” and the legacy their mother left behind. She champions...
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