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Suggest a Question for Rebecca Skloot’s October 25th Lecture at the Kohl Center

Rebecca Skloot’s October 25th lecture at the Kohl Center is free and open to the public. The event will begin at 7 pm (doors open at 6 pm) and no tickets are required. We hope you’ll attend and invite anyone you know who might be interested. We’ll post more details on the web site soon!

Due to the large scale of the Kohl Center event, the question and answer period will be moderated. Questions should be suggested in writing by October 18th. The moderator will select a representative set of questions and ask them of Rebecca Skloot at the event.

If you would like to suggest a question, please post it as a comment to this blog post. Please also consider including your name and some very brief information about yourself.

Please note that blog posts are moderated so there may be a delay of up to 24 hours between submitting your question and seeing it appear on the blog.

Sarah McDaniel
Go Big Read
gobigread@library.wisc.edu

114 thoughts on “Suggest a Question for Rebecca Skloot’s October 25th Lecture at the Kohl Center

  1. My question for Ms. Skloot is: "Do you believe that citizens will soon assume a larger role in how their
    human tissue will be used both in the lab and in the market place, and will they demand a fair price?

    Second question: "Do you believe a more complimentary balance is needed between health care research and health care delivery systems. That is, should they become more integrated and mutally supporting?"

  2. We understand that some of your book royalties go to the Henrietta Lacks foundation you set up. Does that also apply to a portion of your speaking fees?

  3. Hi Rebecca will the Lacks family receive royalties, when the HBO movie comes out, or will they not receive any profits once again from people using their mothers name for profit?

  4. It seems we read almost daily about the demise of professional, educated, ethical, accountable reporters and journalism. What advice can you offer journalism students given the current news environment?

  5. You spent 10 years researching and writing this book. Did you get discouraged and consider giving up? I assume there were some low points. Can you share them? How did you keep pushing on?

  6. Any plans for the future, in terms of writing? Possible follow-up story on the Lacks' family?

  7. Throughout your project how did the term "informed consent" change its meaning as the story/research went on?

    What did it mean to you before the book as opposed to afterward?

  8. What would you have liked to see or would still like to see happen for the Lacks Family as retribution?

  9. Throughout the book, you seem to position yourself as a sort of white saviour who appears to save the poor black family from their "ignorance". Although certainly this is better than leaving the family to wonder what happened and why they were not informed and did not benefit directly from the situation, it is still problematic at best. Given the history of colonialist and post-colonialist policies, which have sought to "educate" through destruction of cultures and assimilation to white western culture, it seems highly inappropriate to take on this role. Although this was perhaps not your intention, the complicating issue of white privilege still must be addressed. How would you respond to this concern?

  10. Is there any movement or legislation to give patients more rights over their own tissues?

  11. I am curious what the reaction of the Lacks family, and particularly Deborah, has been to your book. They were not always portrayed in the best light, although I have no doubt that you wrote the truth. Are they sorry that they became involved in this project?

  12. Thank you for bringing this book to life! It is a tragic family story in our history that needed to be told. It seems that the Lacks family should receive reparations from all of the businesses that have made a profit from the use of the HeLa cells. What role can you play in assisting the family in receiving compensation?

  13. Oops – please ignore or remove the Anonymous post above that referred to the reaction of the family. I had not quite finished the book and did not realize that Deborah passed away. But I am still curious about the reaction of the Lack family.

  14. Throughout your project how did the term "informed consent" change its meaning as the story/research went on?

    What did it mean to you before the book as opposed to afterward?

  15. Just how important are these cells to science? What did the cells enable that couldn't be done before?

  16. In the context of the time, was the process of obtaining the cells unethical, or was it the followup that became unethical?

  17. Wasn't the Hopkins contribution to Henrietta's health greater than whatever they took from her? How was Henrietta Lacks harmed by taking the cells?

  18. Was the entire promise of cell culture overblown, and does this trumpeting of new discoveries extend to other medical "breakthroughs" like stem cells, monoclonal antibodies, and gene therapy?

  19. As a writer, what were some of your reasons for focusing so much on the lives of the Lacks family? Did you get sidetracked by the soap opera in the Lacks family, and thus downplay the scientific tale?

  20. Mrs. Skloot,

    Would anyone on their death bed refuse to concede their cells to science if they knew that those cells had the potential to save millions of lives? The dishonest practices in the medical field at the time were undeniably suspect, but you must admit that HeLa cells have had a profound impact on our society. I understand how interesting a situation it is for your book, how the Lacks family was impacted by cell research and HeLa's implementation, but don't you think that HeLa cells go bigger than a single family? Do the pros of HeLa cells outweigh their cons?

  21. Are there other immortal cell lines and if so, how do they compare with HeLa?
    Did any of the immediate Lacks family (beside Henrietta) get cancer?
    If Henrietta had been diagnosed and treated today, would she have a chance of long term survival or is the HeLa strain still too deadly?

  22. History 900 Introduction to History for US Historians came up with these three questions collaboratively via face to face discussions and learn@uw collaborative writing. We are a seminar of 21 graduate students in history or related fields and approached the book as an inspiring popular medical and social history.

    1. "Your choice to include yourself in the narrative allows your readers to engage with the reality of relationships that exist between researchers and subjects. In our graduate history seminar, we discussed some of the benefits of this narrative technique, especially its transparency. We also discussed some of the issues that may emerge when a white researcher becomes central to a story that deals heavily with issues of racial and class inequality in the medical field.

    Take us through your decision to include yourself in the telling of the Lacks' story. What did you see as the potential risks and rewards of this course of action? What kinds of conversations did you have with the Lacks family and your editors about this narrative choice?"

    2. "This book's ethical questions are mostly tied to science, but in a subtle way, the book also addresses the ethics of ethnography. You acknowledge the potential harm that the process could have on Deborah. How did you make ethical calculations throughout your research? Did your method change as your focus shifted from scientific to historical to biographical? Do you feel that your ethics or the thoroughness of your research were compromised?"

    3. "You situated the story of the Lacks family in a long history of racial and economic injustice in the medical field that continues into the present. To what extent was your goal to raise public awareness of these issues of social justice, within the Lacks' story as well as the writing of popular history, and what kinds of responses were you hoping to elicit? Now that you have published a popular book that is enjoying significant public attention, what do you feel is your continuing responsibility to these issues?"

  23. My question is: Do you think that your book had a positive influence on the Lack's family overall? Did you ever struggle with the idea that you were using their story to your advantage like so many had already?

    Another question is: How much of the book's proceeds go to the foundation for the Lacks family?

    Last question is: Do you still spend time with the Lacks family, or have you lost contact now that you have published your book?

  24. Hi, my name is Rebecca Krueger and I'm reading this book for my English 250 class.
    Incidences like the use of Henrietta Lacks' cells without her permission and the Tuskegee Syphilis study have caused mistrust and negative attitudes toward the medical field, especially amongst minorities. How do you think doctors and researchers should try to alleviate this mistrust so that doctors can conduct meaningful research for the benefit of minorities? Also, how has research improved as far as informed consent is concerned?

  25. You present this book as an alternative to the other journalists, writers and scientists who sought to benefit from the Henrietta Lacks story and HeLa cells. How is writing this book any different? Especially with a program like "Go Big Read" which greatly increases the number of book sales, in addition to your speaking fees– how are you not taking advantage of this family? What amount of your fees and royalties go to the foundation you began?

  26. I would be interested in knowing Rebecca Skloot's response to the following: "Can one be truly informed when asked to provide informed consent?"

  27. I haven't finished the book yet, but I would like to know if Rebecca Skloot had a particular objective in finding the personal details of both the Lacks family and the "other side"'s ( doctors, others in the "system") Does she think dialogue between the two will help the Lacks or help prevent future occurences of what happened?

  28. This seems to be a great book!
    After comments above, it's a quite interesting lecture.
    Maybe i will come with questions after reading it.

    Wish you all the best!

  29. I wants to thank you for the endeavors you’ve created in publishing this post. I am trusting the same ideal work from you inside future too.

  30. Henrietta Lacks, HeLa, was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

  31. We that have no opportunity to attend this legend lecture is there a way to benefit from the lecture. Perhaps a summary of it can be serialized as blog post. Thanks for your consideration

  32. Interesting little thread.

    The important question here would be "How is this information going to help with any progress within this field?"

    Also, are you going to update this blog as to how it went and what was discussed.

  33. We which have no chance to attend this legend lecture is there a way to benefit from the lecture. Perhaps a directory of it can be serialized as blog post. Thanks for your consideration

  34. Wow.. Skloot is an amazing writer.. too bad I missed the lecture 🙁

    I saw her interviewed on the Colbert Report when her book came out

  35. Hi Rebecca I hope your lecture went well. There have been many questions posted here and it would be great if you could find the time to answer them. This question in particular is worthy of an answer:
    "You situated the story of the Lacks family in a long history of racial and economic injustice in the medical field that continues into the present. To what extent was your goal to raise public awareness of these issues of social justice, within the Lacks' story as well as the writing of popular history, and what kinds of responses were you hoping to elicit? Now that you have published a popular book that is enjoying significant public attention, what do you feel is your continuing responsibility to these issues?"

  36. This seems to be interesting. Is there a way to get a copy of contents of the lecture?
    Mail me please if anyone reading this has one!

  37. I half way through Rebecca Skloot's book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and I have to say it's an amazing book.
    Being myself a biotechnology graduate I find amazing all the facts and history around HeLa cells.
    I highly recommend her book.

  38. someone asked "what was the Lacks reaction to Rebecca's book…I read where the children and grandchildren read the book before it came out as part of the fact checking process. They were very happy with it — they didn’t object to any information in the book or ask me to remove or change anything, other than pointing out some dates or other factual things that needed fixing.

  39. I am sure there is a LONG list of benefits derived from cell research. This kinda stuff for the most part doesn't see the light of day until there is money to be made.

  40. Very interesting, although I am way too late. Your blog is great, please inform me of more events later because I'm sure to attend!

  41. Wished that I knew of this blog earlier. Would be a very interesting lecture to attend. Anyway of being notified of future lectures?

  42. I'm sorry I missed it. I'm sure it was fascinating… but my question is the same as one above which is how was Henrietta harmed by taking the cells?

  43. Considering the contribution Henrietta Lacks' cells have made in a numerous areas of medical research, what do you think is a reasonable way to financially compensate her family?

  44. I'm currently reading a book for my english class and i have to admit that i love it!.. I know im late but i hope that these type of lecutres are available in the future!

  45. My question for Ms. Skloot is: "Do you believe that citizens will soon assume a larger role in how their
    human tissue will be used both in the lab and in the market place, and will they demand a fair price?

    Second question: "Do you believe a more complimentary balance is needed between health care research and health care delivery systems. That is, should they become more integrated and mutally supporting?"

  46. I missed that chance but I am also interested to attend your seminar, so that I may clear my doubts. Whenever you held your next seminar kindly post on your site so the people like me may come to know and attend that. Okk

  47. I didn't attend that event due to some reasons but I have so many queries that what kind of questions are asked means on a particular subject or of any type???? I'm currently reading a book for my english class and i have to admit that i love it!.. I know im late but i hope that these type of lecutres are available in the future!

  48. Hi, I'm a big fan of Rebecca. She really inspires me. Do you know when and where her next lecture is?

  49. As a 30-year veteran of the health care business, I'm sorry I missed the lecture. What is odd is that it was 6 months old and everyone here is posting as if it was yesterday.

    Very strange. Anyhow, we'll be in Madison next year foe one of the Badger football games!

  50. It is a shame I missed the lecture – and so good that there could be questions asked afterwards. I wish more lectures were like that!

    Best wishes,

    Ruth

  51. Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks should be required reading for all scientists and students of life. The true story of Henrietta Lacks and her family has finally been told, very beautifully, in this book. This book covers science, ethics, and the story of a family who was terribly wronged in the pursuit of scientific research. Great reading!

  52. After reading this blog I found interview with Rebecca Skloot's in youtube. Somehow I missed this information about HeLa cells. That is so breathtaking story. Thanks to Rebeccas’ curiosity we know this. These are the real news and history what is worth to know instead of war chronology. Can’t be there in Kohl Center but I will check for more information in net. Hope that some summaries about lecture will be published.