Thanks to, friend of the Rock, Vicki Fong for calling this book review from the New York Times to my attention. Rebecca Skloot’s decade-long commitment to uncovering the details of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and her natural writing talents have apparently provided us with a compelling story that raises a whole host of serious ethical questions: questions about medical testing and informed consent, about the ethically dubious background assumptions that are often operative in scientific communities, about the debts that may be owed to the descendants of unwilling (and otherwise largely forgotten) participants in the scientific process.
If you were a student working in a lab that was doing important work with HeLa cells, and you discovered this book, what would you do?
If a therapy developed and tested through the use of HeLa cells allowed you, or a loved one, to survive a life-threatening illness, and you discovered this book, what would you do?
If you were a descendant of Henrietta Lacks, and you could not afford health insurance or health care, what would you do?