Monday, September 20, 2021

Former Theranos chemist testifies

Via CNBC, the chemist level of the Theranos story: 

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – A former Theranos scientist testified Friday that Elizabeth Holmes pressured her to validate blood test results from the company’s Edison machine to speed up a rollout in Walgreens despite problems with the device’s accuracy.

Surekha Gangakhedkar, a senior scientist at Theranos for eight years who reported directly to Holmes, testified that she returned from a vacation in August 2013 and discovered that Theranos was about to launch its Edison blood-testing devices in Walgreens stores.

“I was very stressed and unhappy and concerned with the way the launch was going” Gangakhedkar said. “I was not comfortable with the plans that they had in place so I made a decision to resign and not continue working there.”

Gangakhedkar recalled meeting with Holmes in September 2013 about the issues that prompted her resignation. “At that time she mentioned that she has promised to deliver to the customers and didn’t have much of a choice then to go ahead with the launch,” Gangakhedkar said becoming emotional on the stand.

“Ms. Holmes said she didn’t have much of a choice?” asked Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. attorney.

“Yes,” she replied.

Despite signing a non-disclosure agreement, Gangakhedkar said she printed some documents and took them home when she quit because she was “worried about the launch, I was actually scared that if things do not go well I would be blamed.”

Gangakhedkar was granted immunity from criminal charges in exchange for her testimony.

I've always figured there were product development-type chemists at Theranos, but I hadn't identified any. Sounds like Ms. Gangakhedkar was one of them, and it wasn't a great environment to work. 


  1. You do ask why someone spent eight years at Theranos. Did they feel they couldn't leave, or was the pay too good, or was it Holmes' charm that kept them there - one really wants to know! Everyone reported that engineering was a toxic pit, why wouldn't anyone try to get out as soon as they could?

    1. my bet is green card; you gotta be way too evil to work for theranos fully knowing what that piece of crap really is under the cover.

    2. I was amazed that James Mattis remained on the Theranos board for at least a couple of years after the allegations of fraud were well-known in the chemistry world. I realize the guy isn't a scientist, but enough people knew about the problems that I would be very surprised if no one tipped him off.

  2. I remember reading about them and their novel vision well before the stories of fraud came out. I thought that would be very cool to be working on such a novel idea and as a scientist, who wouldn't think that? But hindsight is always 20/20. This person testifying was likely being lied to by her manager(s) about progress and maybe she stuck with it for far too long because she believed likely lies/stories from her manager(s).

    But lets not forget, Holmes' father was a VP at Enron and I'm sure she learned some deception techniques from him...

    1. That was meant to be a reply to anon's comment at Sep 20 at 3:18PM

  3. I think whenever you launch a new product there is definitely some uncertainty in how it will perform in the field. If you are B2B in chemicals and you purport that your polymer/additive/whatever you made does XYZ your customer will find out pretty quickly if this is the case.

    Surekha Gangakhedkar sounds like she may have been intimidated as well. The FDA does have a whistleblower hotline.

    I figure if anyone is going to blow a whistle on the next Theranos it should be the people actually building the products.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20