San Jose, California – Elizabeth Holmes was the founder and face of Theranos, but when it came to the company’s labs, she relied on its lab directors and highly trained scientists.
This is the picture his defense attorneys painted on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the testimony of former Theranos Lab colleague Erica Cheung, who said Edison blood testing machines often failed tests. quality control.
Holmes’ defense attorney Lance Wade reviewed the high qualifications of scientists working at Theranos, including “52 PhD scientists and ten physicians.”
Dressed in a black and brown heeled gown, Cheung spent six hours at the booth witnessing the high failure rate and data manipulation with the Edison, the company’s mini blood lab machine.
“You will have the same chance as flipping a coin whether your results are good or bad,” Cheung said. “It had to do with seeing this degree of failure, it wasn’t typical of a typical lab.”
Cheung, who worked at Theranos for less than a year, said his lab directors were Mark Pandori, who has a doctorate, and Adam Rosendorff, who has a medical degree. After leaving Theranos, Cheung became an advocate for ethics in the tech industry, starting a nonprofit called Ethics in Entrepreneurship with her former colleague and whistleblower Tyler Schultz.
Holmes arrived in court in a dark green gown with a matching mask, she was present with her mother, Noel Holmes, who has attended all hearings since the trial began last week.
During a hiatus, Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of wire fraud and conspiracy, was seen hugging his mother.
During cross-examination, Wade showed Cheung several check reports for the tests he testified to that were problematic. He pointed to the signatures of those who approved the test for laboratory use, including a laboratory director and a vice president. Holmes did not sign the document.
Cheung said laboratory quality control tests regularly fail, so the company would use an “external suppression” system to “pick” the best data points to go through. Cheung later confirmed to defense attorneys that quality control testing had not been performed on human blood samples.
Earlier today, Cheung said lab workers frequently manipulated the data in an attempt to keep the equipment running. She told the court that she finally shared her concerns with Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Holmes’ second in command and for a time her romantic partner.
“The response and welcome I got from them was like ‘Who do you think is qualified to make these calls, you are a recent UC Berkeley graduate, what do you know about lab diagnostics? ? This company, you have no visibility in me, ”recalls Cheung.
Balwani, who will be tried separately next year, also pleaded not guilty.
Cheung said she shared her concerns with Schultz and her grandfather, former U.S. Secretary of State and Theranos board member George Schultz.
“It was starting to get very uncomfortable and very stressful for me to work in the company,” said Cheung. “I was trying to tell as many people as possible, but it didn’t reach people.”
Cheung’s testimony will continue on Friday.