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Science Talks with Claudia Dreifus: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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In anticipation of HBO Films’ all-star adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s #1 New York Times bestselling book, Claudia Dreifus moderates a conversation with the author, members of the Lacks family, and actors Rose Byrne and Renee Elise Goldsberry, to explore the many facets of this remarkable true story.

Told through the eyes of Henrietta Lacks’ daughter, Deborah Lacks, the film chronicles her search, along with journalist Rebecca Skloot (Byrne), to learn about the mother she never knew. Through flashbacks, Goldsworthy brings the enigmatic character of Henrietta to life, as we learn how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever. The story’s multilayered approach raises questions about race, class and bioethics in America. Before you see the movie (which stars Oprah Winfrey as Deborah Lacks), hear the story of how the book came to be; the impact this historic contribution to science has made on the Lacks family’s lives; how Skloot hopes to be able to use her work to help create a kind of justice for the late Henrietta Lacks and her descendants; and about the HBO adaptation.