Northwest Public Radio added Radiolab to our show lineup last year, and one of our favorite stories is about Henrietta Lacks, who has contributed to medical and scientific research for decades... all unknowingly, after she died of cancer in 1951. That's because Henrietta's cells - now called HeLa cells - are "immortal". Her cells taken from a tissue sample continue to grow in laboratories around the world, providing researchers an invaluable source of human cell material for testing lifesaving therapies and medicines.
This year, thousands of students at Washington State University and the University of Idaho will be reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, as part of each school's common reading program. The family of Henrietta Lacks is also speaking at public events at each university.
Click play above to listen to Radiolab's original story about Henrietta Lacks, and her posthumous contribution to modern medicine.
For more information about the common reading programs: