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Cambridge Festival Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

All day from Friday 26 March until Sunday 4 April

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 27th March. For events on or after 28th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Discover the incredible story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cells enabled a scientific revolution and contributed to numerous incredible developments and life-saving treatments.


She changed the world when her cells were taken without her knowledge and scientists found they could be grown indefinitely in the laboratory. Known to scientists as ‘HeLa’, her cells became crucial for understanding viruses, inventing cancer treatments, and the development of vaccines. She died from cervical cancer in 1951, a 31-year old mother of five.


We invite you to read (or re-read) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and join us in reflecting on Henrietta’s life and story and to discover the science behind her immortal cells. 


Through our website (, you can investigate the science of ‘HeLa’ cells, ask our scientists a question about their work, or ‘borrow a scientist’ to participate in you virtual book club meeting to discuss the current research that is taking place, thanks to Henrietta’s cells.


You are also welcome to join our book club event with the University Library on 1 April - search the Festival programme for Really Popular Book Club and register to attend. 


To discover more about the fundamental biology taking place at the Gurdon Institute, follow us on Instagram or Twitter @GurdonInstitute


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Additional Information

Age: Adults, Young Adults 12 – 18
Timing: Available on Demand
Cost: free
Event Capacity: unlimited
Theme: Society, Health, Explore
Image copyright: Helene Doerflinger

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