August 25, 2011 (La Mesa) -- Grossmont College is involving students in a campuswide learning experience based on Rebecca Skloot's book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. With the start of classes Aug. 22, faculty members in departments ranging from history to nursing, science to English, and culinary arts to the dramatic arts are participating in this interdisciplinary campus learning collaboration.
The bestselling book chronicles how cells of Lacks, a poor African-American woman from the South who died of cancer in 1951, were used to grow human cells in a lab. Cells taken from Lacks were used without consent from her and her family, raising ethical questions about medical research. Included in over 60,000 published studies, these cells have played a part in research on cancer, AIDS, and gene mapping, and led to many discoveries including the polio vaccine.