Ex-Theranos project manager testifies that Elizabeth Holmes told him to conceal parts of testing lab
SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Daniel Edlin, a former Theranos project manager who was friends with Elizabeth Holmes’ brother, testified on Friday that Holmes told him to conceal parts of the company’s lab to potential investors and other important visitors.
Edlin, who worked at Theranos from September 2011 to December 2016, attended Duke University, where he was friends with Christian Holmes, the younger brother of the Theranos founder. He told jurors in Elizabeth Holmes’ criminal trial that during tours at Theranos, visitors would be shown a demo room with the company’s MiniLab, its blood-testing technology.
Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Theranos’ former president, decided where the guests would go.
“I recall that in advance of the tour there would be certain areas of the labs that were hidden by a partition,” said Edlin, who reported directly to Holmes. “Often times [it was] areas where there were Theranos devices to make sure whoever was in the tour couldn’t see them.”
Holmes’ trial began last month, and prosecutors are continuing to call witnesses. The Theranos founder is charged with 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy after her blood-testing start-up, once valued at $9 billion, collapsed beginning in 2015. Holmes pleaded not guilty, as did Balwani, who will be tried separately.
Edlin told jurors that his job at the company was to focus on supporting relationships with business partners like Walgreens. He said he left Theranos to attend business school, and “at that time I no longer believed based on what I was seeing that the company was capable of standing behind the claims it was making about its skill.”
His departure came about a year after the Wall Street Journal, in a series of articles, exposed the company’s technology flaws and business shortcomings.
“I just no longer wanted to be in that type of environment,” he said. Edlin added that he didn’t learn until 2016 that the MiniLab wasn’t used on patients.
Edlin was one of many friends of Holmes’ brother from Duke who went to work for Theranos. He said they interviewed as a group.
“We didn’t discuss too many details at the time but it sounded like there was a lot of potential,” Edlin said.
Edlin told jurors that Holmes was in the office “all the time really from early morning until late in the evening” and frequently on weekends. He said there was a period where he met with Holmes daily.
His testimony continues on Tuesday.
Lance Wade, a defense attorney for Holmes, told the judge on Friday that he was “deeply troubled” by the prosecution’s line of questioning with certain witnesses, including former lab directors Sunil Dhawan and Adam Rosendorff.
Wade said that certain questions the prosecutors have asked the former lab workers seemed to imply that Theranos employees were falsifying information or data.
“There’s been questions with a couple witnesses now that to our ear create an impression that there’s some underlying falsification or data integrity issue,” Wade said. He added, “there’s no evidence of that in the case.”
Wade said that line of questioning “has obviously very prejudicial implications for our client.”
Jeff Schenk, an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said the questions for Dhawan were intended to show jurors that he was making assumptions about what was happening inside the lab.