The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the true story of a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells forever changed the field of medical research, will be featured at Multicultural Student Services’ sixth annual January Term Book Club.

In her book, author Rebecca Skloot reveals an important, true story about Lacks – her cells were taken without her permission and led to the development of the polio vaccine, treatments for cancer and the growth of a multimillion dollar biotech industry. This story is about the human cost of science, providing yet another example of America’s legacy of experimentation on Black people without their consent.

Skloot includes the voices of Lacks’ family, providing a candid account of the personal impact on their lives. This is an important and powerful story that intersects the complexities of race, class and bioethics in America.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has received widespread critical acclaim. Selected as a best book of 2010 by more than 60 media outlets, it has won numerous awards, including the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Welcome Trust Book Prize, and two Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year and Best Debut Author of the Year. 

Students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the Multicultural Student Services January Term Book Club, which will meet from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 5, 12, 19, and 26, in Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. A limited number of books are available and free to St. Thomas students with ID. Book club participants will have the opportunity to have lunch with Henrietta’s son, David “Sonny” Lacks, on March 8, 2012. 

To register for the book club, e-mail multicultural@stthomas.edu. Free books are available to the first 40 students who sign up. The event is sponsored by Multicultural Student Services, Office for Mission and Institutional Diversity, Luann Dummer Center for Women, Department of English, American Culture and Difference, and Faculty Development.