Members of Lacks family will join author for lecture
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Wednesday evening’s Wyatt Lecture featuring “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” author Rebecca Skloot has been postponed. It will take place in the Spring 2017 semester, on a date to be announced. The planned Lacks family discussion on Thursday evening is also postponed.
Author Rebecca Skloot will deliver the 2016 Wilson W. and Anne D. Wyatt Lecture at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16, at Bellarmine University.
Skloot is an award-wining writer who specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, goldfish surgery and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan.
Skloot is best known for her first book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," a New York Times best seller. The 2010 book, which garnered many accolades and is being made into an HBO film by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, chronicles the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were taken and sold without her knowledge. Those cells were vital for research and breakthroughs in the polio vaccine, gene mapping, cloning and in vitro fertilization.
Skloot’s book is also Bellarmine’s “book in common” for first-year students throughout the current academic year.
Her Wyatt Lecture will address the ethical, scientific and racial issues raised by Lacks’ life, as well as the obstacles that her descendants continue to face.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the George G. Brown Center’s Frazier Hall. Joining Skloot will be two members of the Lacks family, who will participate in a Q & A session moderated by Dr. Jon Blanford, Director of Bellarmine’s honors program. Members of the Lacks family will also hold a presentation the following night, November 17, at 7 p.m. in Frazier Hall. The Lacks’ presentation will cover topics including healthcare and medical research.
Skloot has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction. Skloot has taught creative writing and science journalism at the University of Memphis, the University of Pittsburgh and New York University. She gives talks on topics ranging from bioethics to book proposals at conferences and universities nationwide.
Skloot lives in Chicago and is currently working on a book about animals, humans, science and ethics, inspired by time she spent working as a veterinary technician in animal shelters and research labs.
Wilson W. Wyatt and his wife, Anne, founded the Wilson W. and Anne D. Wyatt Lecture Series in 1990 to bring nationally-prominent speakers to Bellarmine and the Louisville community for discussions on politics and government. Past lecturers include former prime minister of the United Kingdom Sir Edward Heath, television news journalist Andrea Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Seymour Hersh, journalist and author Jim Lehrer and Watergate journalist Bob Woodward. Skloot’s lecture will be the 16th in the series.
-- News release prepared by Christina Mudd, media relations intern