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Some people can lie with a straight face and be convincing. Those people are often called sociopaths and narcissists, which I’m convinced is the case for Theranos scammer Elizabeth Holmes. We just discussed the HBO documentary The Inventor, which chronicled Holmes’ rise from Stanford dropout at 19 to perpetrator of a billion dollar medical technology fraud. Holmes’ idea, to run multiple medical tests on small amounts of blood, was wishful thinking with little basis in science. When Holmes ran an earlier idea by a Stanford medical professor, Dr. Phyllis Gardner, she was told that it was impossible. However Holmes ignored her and shopped around until she found a professor willing to support her. When scientists and engineers at Theranos told Holmes that there were setbacks limiting the capacity of the Edison machines she promoted like they already existed, she fired and demoted them, surrounding herself with yes people. Those are the marks of a narcissist, who discards those who are no longer useful.
Dr. Gardner has consistently spoken out against Holmes to her colleagues, even when Holmes was covering magazines and being lauded as a health care evangelist. In an interview with Business Insider, Gardner explains how she warned people about Holmes, and how she wants her to be convicted for the scam she perpetrated.
Gardner came back into the Theranos story when Richard Fuisz, a family friend of Holmes’ whom Gardner had met when she worked in healthcare at ALZA, reached out to ask for her opinion of Holmes. She was frank with him.
“I don’t trust her,” she recalled telling Fuisz. “I don’t know what she’s up to.”
Theranos and Fuisz eventually went to court over a patent dispute, a difficult experience for Fuisz and his family. Gardner and Fuisz stayed in touch, eventually connecting with Rochelle Gibbons, the widow of Ian Gibbons, the chief scientist at Theranos who killed himself in 2013.
The group would text about what they were hearing about Theranos, especially in light of the company’s partnership with Walgreens, in which it set up clinical labs in certain pharmacies in Arizona to perform its finger-stick tests…
Stanford students would ask to invite Holmes to speak as a female founder, but Gardner wouldn’t allow it.
“I support women. I always have. I’ve gotten in trouble for it. I’ve pushed hard,” Gardner said. “But I’m not going to support a fraud – I don’t care what your gender is…
“I just want her convicted,” Gardner said of Holmes. “All I want is to see her in an orange jumpsuit with a black turtleneck accent.”
Dr. Gardner is awesome, she called Holmes for what she was back when everyone was buying her black turtleneck Cold Case hair hype. As for Holmes’ fate, I bet Holmes and Sunny Balwani will receive sentences that are about a year or two and then they’ll be out in six to nine months on good behavior. I hope I’m wrong. Vanity Fair did a profile of Holmes last month. They quoted an insider who said she sees herself as a victim and that she’s currently engaged to a younger man who comes from a wealthy family. She also hopes to write a book and to put out a documentary with “her side of the story.” Jennifer Lawrence is set to play her in the movie Bad Blood, directed by Adam McKay (Vice, Anchorman).
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