The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Ranked #1 in Mathematician Biography, Ranked #1 in 2010see more rankings.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets... more

Want to learn the key points of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" in 21 minutes?

Get a full book summary of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by signing up for Shortform.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being 100% comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you don't spend your time wondering what the author's point is.
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from the world's leading experts.

Carl Zimmer Yes. This is a fascinating book on so many different levels. It is really compelling as the story of the author trying to uncover the history of the woman from whom all these cells came. (Source)

Rankings by Category

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is ranked in the following categories:

Similar Books

If you like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, check out these similar top-rated books:

Learn: What makes Shortform summaries the best in the world?