Best-selling author to speak downtown

Rebecca Skloot, author of the 2011 Community Reading Project selection “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” will give a presentation at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids. A book signing will follow the discussion, and doors open to the event at 6 p.m.

The event, sponsored by The Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Zumberge Library and the University Bookstore, is free and open to the public.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is Skloot’s first book, and the work of nonfiction took her 10 years to research and write. However, after publication, the book soared instantly to the best-seller’s list.

Skloot’s book tells audiences about the women behind the famous HeLa cell line, which helped researchers develop the polio vaccine and led to advances in cloning and gene mapping. However, Henrietta Lacks did not necessary grant permission for her cells to be used for research, and despite the cells widespread use in scientific fields, her family does not profit. They cannot afford health insurance. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks raises ethical questions in the genetic research performed on the HeLa cells.”

No tickets are required for the event, and no seating will be reserved.