Controversial health startup Theranos has a board of directors that's anything but medical experts

Elizabeth holmesTheranos/ScreenshotElizabeth Holmes, Theranos founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board

A Wall Street Journal report published Thursday alleged that Theranos, the $US10-billion health startup whose blood tests can allegedly be done with a single drop, has a few problems.

In a follow-up article published later Thursday evening, the Journal reported that the company had stopped using its signature finger-prick blood test on all but one of its more than 240 blood tests.

And the company, which is unlike any other, also has a board that’s unlike most other health companies. It’s members are:

  • George P. Shultz – former US Secretary of State
  • Gary Roughead – retired US Navy admiral
  • William J. Perry – former US Secretary of Defence
  • Sam Nunn – former US Senator who served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
  • James N. Mattis – retired United States Marine Corps general
  • Richard Kovacevich – former CEO of Wells Fargo
  • Henry A. Kissinger – former US Secretary of State
  • William H. Frist – heart and lung transplant surgeon and former US Senator
  • William H. Foege – former Director of the CDC
  • Riley P. Bechtel – Chairman of the Board of the Bechtel Group, Inc., a construction company
  • Sunny Balwani – President and COO of Theranos
  • Elizabeth Holmes – CEO and Chairman of the Board of Theranos

To make sure we got all that: that’s six ex-government officials, two former military leaders, two corporation leaders, two members of Theranos’ leadership, and two men who graduated from medical school. As my colleague Kevin Loria writes over at Tech Insider,

“The calibre of the board suggests that Theranos must have developed a transformative innovation, but other than Frist, who has not practiced medicine in many years, only Foege is a medical professional.

This isn’t the norm.

Take Quest Diagnostics, one of Theranos’ big competitors: Their board is filled with health insurance and pharmaceutical leaders like former Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Vicky B. Gregg and Vertex Pharmaceutical CEO Jeffrey M. Leiden. Or pharmaceutical giant Merck, whose board is filled with leaders in the medical and academic world, like Thomas R. Cech, a University of Colorado profesor of biochemistry and Paul B. Rothman, dean of medical faculty and vice president for medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, along with a smattering of corporate leaders.

Let’s hope this powerhouse board can help Theranos navigate the controversy surrounding these inquiries into its signature test.

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