The film is based on Rebecca Skloot's nonfiction book of the same name. It details the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cancerous cells became the source of medical breakthroughs.
The story will be told from the perspective of Lacks' daughter, Deborah, to be played by Winfrey.
Veteran Broadway director-producer George C. Wolfe will direct the HBO project from his screenplay.
Filming is scheduled to begin this summer, with an air date yet to be announced.