24 years ago Rebecca Skloot was in her high school biology class when her teacher mentioned the case of a woman who was being treated for cancer in 1951. Her doctors had taken a sample of some cancerous cells from her. There was something unique about these cells; they kept on growing. They continue to be used today for medical research.
That woman was named Henrietta Lacks. She died shortly after that cell sample was removed without her consent. Her family didn't even know until many years later that her cells, now known as HeLa cells, had become vital for scientific research. Rebecca Skloot was intrigued. She wanted to know more.
Rececca Skloot spent over a decade researching the story of Henrietta Lacks. Her book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," became one of the best-selling books of 2010. It was recently issued in paperback.
In this interview the author describes the difficulties she faced in reconstructing the life of Henrietta Lacks and the amazing story of the HeLa cells which continue to flourish in laboratories around the world.