Theranos Inc., the blood-testing startup facing regulatory scrutiny, added physicians from prominent hospitals to its scientific and medical advisory board in a push to help persuade skeptics that the secretive company’s technology is viable.
CEO Elizabeth Holmes said the medical board is advising the company as it seeks to become more transparent about how its technology works. Theranos has said it can run a number of tests on just one fingerprick’s worth of blood, at a fraction of the price charged by big laboratory companies like Quest Diagnostics Inc. and Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings.
Theranos is “preparing manuscripts for peer review and to present at scientific sessions publicly,” Holmes said Thursday. She declined to provide a schedule for publication other than to say “we’ve been very methodical about it, and it will come.”
While Holmes outlined in December a goal of publishing data in a medical journal to verify the technology, so far the only peer-reviewed study examining Theranos’s service is one by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, which found it gave irregular results more often than its peers. Theranos has contested these findings.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has struggled to regain credibility ever since the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles questioning the accuracy of its tests. It’s also been slammed by a harsh inspection report from regulators at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Despite the controversy, Theranos has “continued to see the same traffic” in its retail outlets in Arizona, Holmes said.
The advisory board now includes four professors of pathology or clinical chemistry. The new members are:
Susan Evans, former president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Ann Gronowski, professor of pathology and immunology and of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Larry Kricka, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Jack Ladenson, a professor of clinical chemistry at Washington University School of Medicine
Andy Miller, an assistant attending physician in infection diseases at the Hospital for Special Surgery and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and
Steven Spitalnik, professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Medical Center
They join previous medical advisory board members William Foege, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and David Helfet, director of the orthopedic trauma service at the Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Bill Frist, a former U.S. senator and physician by training, has transferred to the board of counselors, according to Theranos, while Jonathan Simons, CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, has left the medical advisory board.
By Caroline Chen