How Elizabeth Holmes Sidelined the Real Scientist at Theranos

It has been said that Elizabeth Holmes sidelined the real scientist, concerning the trial for fraud over her time at Theranos. Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff was the second employee to testify at the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, who kept his work emails.

How Elizabeth Holmes Sidelined the Real Scientist at Theranos

Forwarding business emails to a personal account may violate a nondisclosure agreement, which Rosendorff signed when he joined the company.

But like Surekha Gangakhedkar before him, he feared that he would be blamed for the company’s problems. He was rightly concerned: he is one of the people trying to blame the defense of Elizabeth Holmes.

How Elizabeth Holmes Sidelined the Real Scientist at Theranos

Still on the Elizabeth Holmes case, according to the verge “the Company was more about PR and fundraising than patient care.” In the US’s opening arguments against Elizabeth Holmes, the defense agreed that there were problems in Theranos’ lab.

But Lance Wade, Homes’ attorney, said problems in the clinical lab were ultimately the responsibility of the lab director.

And by the way, that lab director reported to Holmes’ co-defendant, Sunny Balwani, who is being tried separately. They are facing 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Recent Testimonies

The recent testimony was about bad Theranos tests. A lot of new emails were introduced, showing Holmes was aware of the company’s problems and was even actively trying to manage the situation.

Several times in those emails, Rosendorff tried to get Theranos labs to run FDA-approved tests instead of the ones Theranos developed. But maybe even more telling were the emails that Rosendorff was excluded from.

Rosendorff didn’t mince words when he took the witness stand. He quit because of many things, he said. “One was the unwillingness of management to perform proficiency testing as required by law, I felt pressured to vouch for tests I did not have confidence in.” That wasn’t all. He came to believe “the company was more about PR and fundraising than patient care,” he said.


On August 31, 2013, Elizabeth Holmes sent a 1 AM email asking for an update on how many tests had completed validation. An employee wrote back that none of them had. The launch was scheduled for September 9th, 2013, and the schedule came from Holmes and Balwani, Rosendorff said.

Increasingly worried, he tried to stall it. He was “raising alarm bells.” In an email a little more than a week before the scheduled launch, Rosendorff wrote to Holmes and Balwani raising concerns about some of the tests. He also thought the lab needed more staff with better training.

Theranos Devices “Failed So Frequently It Raised Doubts In My Mind Regarding The Accuracy Of The Tests Themselves.”

Some of his testimony corroborated what previous Theranos employees had said. He echoed Erika Cheung’s concerns about removing outliers from Therano’s data. As both Cheung and Gangakhedkar testified, the Edison machines frequently failed quality control.

While a quarter of Theranos’ devices routinely failed quality control, failures of commercially available tech were far less frequent. Theranos devices “failed so frequently it raised doubts in my mind regarding the accuracy of the tests themselves,” Rosendorff said. He emailed Balwani about the failure rates, who wrote back, “Adam. This is not the case.”

“The Test Has Lost Any Diagnostic Value.”

In February of 2014, Rosendorff also tried to convince the company to stop running its HDL (“good”) cholesterol test on Theranos devices.

He sent an email to Balwani and added Holmes because he thought Balwani wasn’t listening to him. “I got a lot of pushback” for suggesting the lab use approved devices, Rosendorff said. The story goes on and on, but don’t you worry as you can get more of the details here.


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