Former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff was the second employee who testified in Elizabeth Holmes’ trial who kept his work emails. Forwarding work emails to a personal account can violate a non-disclosure agreement, which Rosendorff signed when he joined the company. But, like Surekha Gangakhedkar before him, he was worried he’d be blamed for the company’s problems.
He was right to worry: he’s one of the people Elizabeth Holmes’ defense is trying to blame.
In opening arguments of US v Elizabeth Holmes, the defense agreed there were problems in Theranos’ lab. But Lance Wade, Homes’ attorney, said that problems in the clinical lab were ultimately the responsibility of the lab director. And besides, that lab director reported to Holmes’ co-defendant, Sunny Balwani, who is being tried separately. They face 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Today’s 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.
When he first joined Theranos in April 2013, Rosendorff thought Theranos might be the next Apple. But the sheen wore off the company quickly — and he began looking for other jobs by that summer. In August, before Theranos’ launch in patients, the clinical lab was “anxious” about testing real people, he said; the pace around the launch “extremely rushed and hurried.”
On August 31, 2013, Elizabeth Holmes sent a 1AM 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.
He needed “a few more weeks to sort through these medical and logistical issues,” he wrote in the email. That would mean delaying bringing Theranos’ tests to patients. He even met with Holmes about his concerns, because he felt Balwani wasn’t taking him seriously.
During that meeting Rosendorff described Holmes as “very nervous.” “She was not her usual composed self. She was trembling a little bit,” he said.
Read More News: How Elizabeth Holmes sidelined the real scientists at Theranos