One Campus, One Book | Spotlight

The story of ‘HeLa’ cells chosen for campuswide read

Questions of bioethics and race arise in quest for medical breakthroughs

Upcoming events:

One Campus, One Book Kick-off: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Monday, October 10, 3:15 p.m., Alhambra Room, University-Student Union

The 2011-12 selection, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, blends good storytelling, investigative journalism, health sciences, medical ethics, and an analysis of ethnicity, class, and gender issues. This One Campus, One Book kickoff event includes selected readings from the book, information about Henrietta Lacks, involvement opportunities, and giveaways.

Discussion: Exploring the Themes of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Wednesday, October 19, 4:30 p.m., Los Angeles Room AB, University-Student Union

Join us as faculty and community members explore major themes of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the One Campus, One Book selection for 2011-12. CSULA Professors Melina Abdullah (Pan-African Studies) and Jamil Momand (Chemistry and Biochemistry), along with Jenny Faust (Academic Affairs, CSU Fullerton), will discuss topics, such as medical ethics, philosophical dilemmas, and race, class, and gender implications as they relate to the life and continued use of Henrietta Lacks’ immortal cells in medical research.

The University Library and Honors College at Cal State L.A. are calling on all students, faculty, staff and administrators to join the One Campus, One Book community reading experience.

Picture of book cover.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks—a New York Times bestseller by science journalist Rebecca Skloot—is selected for CSULA’s 2011-12 One Campus, One Book.

Skloot’s non-fiction book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer who died of aggressive cervical cancer in 1951 but not before cell samples were removed, without her knowledge or consent, by doctors treating her at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Lacks’ cells, commonly known as “HeLa,” have been widely used for medical research in the span of 60 years—contributing to breakthroughs in polio, cancer, gene mapping, and more.

According to One Campus, One Book Committee Chair Christina Sheldon, who is also an instruction and reference librarian at CSULA, “The HeLa tale is equally fascinating and frightening, raising hard questions about the intersection of bioethics and race in America.”

Faculty and staff are also encouraged to incorporate study of the book into classes and campus events throughout the year. Copies of the book will be available for check-out at the University Library and for purchase at the University Bookstore at a 20 percent discount.

The One Campus, One Book web page includes discussion prompts, teaching resources and event updates: For additional program details, call the University Library at (323) 343-3950.

Here are links for your reference: