Bestselling author Rebecca Skloot spent over ten years doggedly uncovering the truth about the life, death, and ultimate “immortality” of a poor black tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks. On a tumultuous educational path until a community college biology instructor uttered the words “Henrietta Lacks,” Skloot—with remarkable focus and tenacity—set off on a trajectory that would…
Bestselling author Rebecca Skloot spent over ten years doggedly uncovering the truth about the life, death, and ultimate “immortality” of a poor black tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks.
On a tumultuous educational path until a community college biology instructor uttered the words “Henrietta Lacks,” Skloot—with remarkable focus and tenacity—set off on a trajectory that would shine the national spotlight on both, and become the phenomenal book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Crown 2010/ Broadway 2011).
Recognizable for its engaging, straightforward language, Skloot’s writing— both in The Immortal Life and her many feature articles for major publications—has charmed readers around the world. With this same trademark sensibility, her lectures have been lauded for her ability to make complex issues accessible to diverse audiences.
At Emory University, an official described the large audience as being “completely rapt” while the Executive Director of Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research called her “an excellent speaker with a timely message that needs to be heard.” West Virginia University said, “She was one of our top speakers ever!”
More than 100 communities, schools, and universities have chosen The Immortal Life for their common read programs, with similar praise for her lectures.
In The Immortal Life, Skloot tells the story of a young black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951—and left behind an inexplicably immortal line of cells known as HeLa. Henrietta Lacks, whose cells—harvested without her knowledge or consent—contributed to scientific advancements as varied as the polio vaccine, treatments for cancers and viruses, in-vitro fertilization, and the impact of space travel on human cells.
The story is also about her children, who were later used in research without their consent and who’ve never benefited from the commercialization of HeLa cells, though the cells have helped biotech companies make millions of dollars. Part detective story, part scientific odyssey, and part family saga, The Immortal Life’s multi-layered approach raises fascinating questions about race, class, and bioethics in America.
Spanning a variety of topics, Skloot’s lectures have fascinated everyone from college undergraduates assigned to read the book to technical medical or legal audiences seeking an expert perspective on medical bioethics.
Skloot has spoken widely at high schools, colleges and professional organizations, including: Johns Hopkins University, Morehouse School of Medicine, The National Council of Teachers of English, The National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, Yale University, and more.
She has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, including The Colbert Report, CBS Sunday Morning, and National Public Radio (NPR) programs including Fresh Air and Talk of the Nation. These interviews and more are available at RebeccaSkloot.com
The Immortal Life was selected as a best book of 2010 by over 60 media outlets including: The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post Book World, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
It has enjoyed more than three years on The New York Times bestseller list, and is being translated into more than 25 languages, and made into an HBO film produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball.
Though best-known for The Immortal Life, Rebecca Skloot has written more than 200 feature articles, personal essays, book reviews, and news stories for The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Columbia Journalism Review; Seed; New York Magazine; Slate; Popular Science; Chicago Tribune; among others.
Her work has been anthologized in several collections, including Best Food Writing and The Best Creative Nonfiction. She is co-editor of The Best American Science Writing 2011 and has worked as a correspondent for NPR’s Radiolab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW. She was named One of Five Surprising Leaders of 2010 by The Washington Post.
Rebecca Skloot has a B.S. in biological sciences and a MFA in creative nonfiction. She has taught creative writing and science journalism at the University of Memphis, the University of Pittsburgh, and New York University. She is founder and president of the Henrietta Lacks Foundation.
Skloot is currently working on a new book about the human-animal bond from her home in Chicago, and remains in close contact with the Lacks family.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
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