What I'm reading now: 13 March 07

Well, the knitting project is finished as of last night (with the help of an NCIS:LA marathon), and will be brought to work tomorrow to be shown off. After that, it will be carefully packaged and sent by InLaw Express to its proper destination... but everything in good time.

I did, in the meantime, find time to read something: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecc Skloot. A lot of scientific research, particularly in human biology and pathology, relies on studying the reactions of cells grown in petri dishes to various substances and conditions. An overwhelming number of those cells are from what's known as the HeLa line. He La is derived from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died of an incredibly aggressive cancer in the 1950's, but whose cells continue to live and multiply. Author Rebecca Skloot has researched not just the start of this line of research - one of the first lines of cells to stay alive in laboratory conditions - but also Henrietta's life, and the lives of the family she left behind - none of whom knew anything about HeLa for twenty years. It's a fascinating story, thoroughly researched, and written with clarity and sympathy toward a woman and a family who continue to feel left out of their own family's history. 

Comments

Ooh! Ooh! I read that and it was fantastic!

I remember reading about HeLa in an ancient Reader's Digest and being thoroughly creeped out by this cell culture that could take over any other cell culture. I'm sure I must have missed the part about the cultures being lab cultures, or else at 12ish, that distinction simply didn't mean that much to me.