- Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 7:30pm
- MSU Campus
The 2015 Freshman Convocation speech by Rebecca Skloot, author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and a live question and answer period following with Skloot and members of Henrietta Lacks’ family will be streamed live to the MSU campuses in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls and Havre. The streaming is restricted to computers on the Great Falls College MSU, MSU-Billings, MSU-Bozeman, and MSU-Northern campuses.
Rebecca Skloot, author of the bestselling "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," and members of the Lacks family will speak at Montana State University's 2015 Freshmen Convocation, scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is the 2015 MSU freshmen book selection.
Lacks was an African-American tobacco farmer and the mother of five who died from cervical cancer in 1951 when she was 31 years old. Before she died, cells from her cancerous tumor were harvested and cultured at Johns Hopkins University to create the first known human immortal cell line for medical research. The cells harvested from Lacks behaved differently than other cells that scientists had harvested. Instead of dying quickly, they could be kept alive and multiply in a short time. The line was called HeLa, for the first two initials in Lacks' first and last name. The cells have been used in more than 70,000 medical studies. The cells have been used to make vital contributions to the development of drugs for herpes, leukemia, influenza and Parkinson's disease. The cells have been used in studies on everything from lactose digestion to mosquito mating.
Skloot, an award-winning science and medical writer, published the book in 2010. The book remained on the "New York Times" bestseller list for two years. Members of the Lacks family will join Skloot for a panel discussion following her speech.
"This year's convocation speaker is a master storyteller who will also prompt a lively campus-wide discussion about scientific ethics, cultural diversity and gender rights," said MSU Provost Martha Potvin. "We welcome the community to join us."
MSU's Freshman Convocation is the formal welcoming of its incoming class where the university focuses attention on academic affairs. It shows the support of the university and community to help the new students reach their goal of becoming the graduating class of 2019. Skloot's lecture will be MSU's ninth freshman convocation.
- David Singel