The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman, sought treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. During treatment, and without her consent, samples of her cancer tissue were taken for medical and scientific experimentation. For 60 years, cells reproduced from those samples have been used in research that has led to dozens of medical breakthroughs. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not only a biography of Lacks and her family, many of whom live in poverty, unable to afford healthcare, but also a revealing account of medical research and the variety of ethical questions it poses.
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science by John Fleischman
“Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. Phineas, a railroad construction foreman, was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived to live another eleven years and become a textbook case in brain science.” - goodreads.com
Saratoga Reads wrapped up its eighth year of programming with a discussion featuring David “Sonny” Lacks and David Lacks Jr., the son and grandson of Henrietta Lacks. In a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Joe Donohue of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, the two men discussed Henrietta Lacks’ story, and the impact of Rebecca Skloot’s work on their family.
The year also featured a visit by John Fleischman, author of the year’s companion book, who spoke with students at Maple Avenue Middle School and Skidmore College about his book and related issues in brain science.