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Community Reading Project author to lecture

  • Rebecca Skloot

Posted on March 23, 2011

The author of Grand Valley's Community Reading Project will discuss her best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, during presentations in Grand Rapids and Holland.

Rebecca Skloot will give a presentation on Monday, March 28, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. NE. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required and there will not be reserved seating. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

She will also be at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave. in Holland, at 12:30 p.m. on March 28 for a book discussion.

The book, named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of 2010, traces the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer who underwent a medical procedure in the early 1950s and unknowingly had her cells taken. Her cells, known as HeLa, continue to grow in culture today; they are an important medical tool that led to advances in cloning, in vitro fertilization and gene mapping. Lacks' cells have been sold for millions, yet her family did not know of the research or the money involved until 20 years after Lacks' death.

Skloot, a science writer, took more than a decade to write her debut book. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times Magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine and Discover. She is also the founder and president of the Henrietta Lacks Foundation and a portion of book sales go to support the foundation that has given tuition grants to Lacks' descendents.

Grand Valley's Community Reading Project, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, University Libraries and University Bookstores. Susan Mendoza, director of Undergraduate Research and Integrative Learning, said more than 3,000 Grand Valley campus and community members have been engaged in dialogue about the book via courses, discussion groups and community events.

Other events associated with CRP are detailed below.
• March 24, 4 p.m., Meijer Campus in Holland: Community book discussion sponsored by Grand Valley and Black River Public Schools.
• March 24, 7 p.m., Grand Rapids Public Main Library, Ryerson Auditorium: Discussion will feature guests from Grand Valley, Calvin College and Grand Rapids African American Health Institute.

For more information, visit or call x18100.

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