Disgraced Theranos Inc. founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes has resigned from President Barack Obama’s Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship advisory board.
In May 2015, President Barack Obama hosted a gala White House event to renew his push for global entrepreneurship. At the highly promoted event, Obama asked Holmes to be a presidential role model to help empower women, young people, Muslims and Cubans. In his prepared remarks, the president stated: “At a time when the world is more interconnected than ever, we’ve got unprecedented opportunities to help more people access capital, resources, networks.”
Mr. Obama appointed a total of nine Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, including AOL CEO Steve Case; Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky; Julie Hanna, the chair of the board of the lending platform Kiva; and Holmes of Theranos.
The 31-year-old “fashionista” CEO had claimed that Theranos provided “unparalleled transparency” in its ability to use a minute blood sample, and then charge very low costs to test for cancer, thyroid disorders, cholesterol levels, STDs and hundreds of other medical conditions.
Holmes claimed miniaturized technology, employing state-of-the-arts microneedles and nanotubes, generated immediate and highly accurate results versus the normal number of days. Holmes claimed the Theranos “Edison” blood-test technology would help improve the health of poor people around the world by slashing the cost charged by multi-billion dollar blood test companies such as Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp.
Breitbart News reported last summer that the highly secretive Theranos — one of the most valuable Silicon Valley “unicorns,” with a private market valuation of $9 billion after its pin-prick blood test for thousands of diseases was approved by the FDA last July — was preparing one of Silicon Valley’s biggest IPOs.
But on October 15, a Wall Street Journal article citing “unnamed” former employees claimed Theranos had inflated its testing effectiveness to the FDA. The majority of Theranos’s board resigned and over the next few months the company was investigated by the SEC and the U.S. Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Holmes resigned from the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship advisory board in late July to “spend all her time focused on one thing, and that is Theranos and its needs, especially as the company focuses on sharing its technologies with the scientific community.”
Despite all the drama that Theranos has experienced, Elizabeth Holmes made an impressive technical presentation to introduce the company’s new printer-size “Sample Processing Unit,” or “miniLab,” to a meeting of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) conference on August 2 in Philadelphia.
The “miniLab” supposedly can run a battery of tests on just 160 microliters of blood taken from a pin-pricked finger. Holmes showed clinical data for Zika and 10 other tests from a single blood sample run on the devise. Theranos claims the device can run up to 40 tests from 3 to 4 pin-prick blood samples.
Theranos’ new blood test device is still being described as a prototype. It is still unclear if any of the new Theranos products presented were part of the discredited “Edison” technology, but the essential technology and techniques used by the miniLab have been employed by doctors and scientists for over a decade.