Purdue’s Common Reading
I just finished reading this year’s common reading selection for Purdue’s incoming first year students. The true story is about a woman named Henrietta Lacks and revolves around issues related to ethics, science, and racial issues.
If you have not read the book, I highly recommend doing so. The ethical issues revolve around medical research as it was conducted in the U.S. and the lingering unanswered questions we continue to have. The science story is how cell-based research using Henrietta Lacks’ cells, without her or her family’s knowledge, becomes one of the most important medical research tools throughout the world. The racial issues revolve around lives of poor African-Americans over the last few generations who are the extended family of Henrietta Lacks.
From my perspective, I would also add that the book covers a topic and a story that I would describe as an in-depth portrait of the impact of technology on society. Although the story is about the discovery process in science, that discovery process would not be possible without the use of technology. A technology that has social consequences and ethical dilemmas that continues today.