The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Questions and Answers
by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book cover
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Why would members of the Lacks family living today object to researchers sequencing the genome of HeLa cells?

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In her nonfiction account of the life of Henrietta Lacks, the unauthorized use of her cells for beneficial medical research, and her family's efforts at gaining some measure of autonomy over their late relative's living tissue and compensation for that use, Rebecca Skloot goes into considerable detail on the reasons why surviving family members objected to the sequencing of the genome. It is possible that, had medical researchers approached Lacks' family with their intentions and with a proposal for financial compensation, then the family would have consented to the research that was performed utilizing Henrietta's cells. Instead, however, those researchers exploited Henrietta's life and death for their own professional and financial benefit. While much good came from that research, the...

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