Henrietta Lacks was an unwitting donor of cells from her cancerous tumor, which formed the first human cell line used for medical research.
In the photo, she stands with a determined yet friendly expression on her face, hands on her hips, as if she's ready to face the future, no matter what it might bring.
The best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which features the striking image of Lacks on its cover, tells the story of this African-American woman, her family, and her fast-growing cells, used in over 70,000 medical studies. The latest development in the story: Earlier this year, scientists sequenced Henrietta Lacks's genome and made it public, without asking the family's permission.
When you wrote the book, could you ever have imagined this latest turn of events: a medical institution inviting the Lacks family to join them in future deliberations? In my wildest dreams, what I hoped would happen [is that the book would] lead to a big national discussion that would result in scientists and the Lacks family being in the room together talking and making some kinds of decisions about policy.

In the 1970s, when scientists went back to her children to do research on them-a€”that's the moment I think race played a significant role.
Good for: One part historical fiction, one part slice-of-life drama, and a very small part speculative fiction, this Pulitzer-prize-winning book is a crowd pleaser, but not an all-ages crowd (drug use, complicated sexual relationships, death).
Six years after it was optioned for the screen, Rebecca Skloot’s smash bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will go before the cameras this summer. Here’s something that might land atop Oprah’s Favorite Things List: a starring role in HBO’s next high-profile film. Oprah will star in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which has been greenlit by HBO Films. Oprah Winfrey will star in 'Henrietta Lacks' movie, but who will play Rebecca Skloot?

Also for them there are some pretty real implications and concerns about questions of privacy. The scientists grew up in an era of segregation, of not having to ever explain things to black people. It’s really good except for the very last chapter, which had me rolling my eyes a lot.
But now the National Institutes of Health has taken the important step of inviting two of Lacks's descendants to be part of the HeLa Genome Data Access working group, which considers applications to use the genome.

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