Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes Withdraws From Conference Talk

Damian McNamara and Allison Shelley

March 03, 2016

LA JOLLA, California — Elizabeth Holmes, chief executive officer of Theranos and the world's youngest self-made female billionaire, slated to take the podium today, has side-stepped the spotlight by backing out of the conference.

Holmes was scheduled to open the afternoon session at the Future of Genomic Medicine (FOGM) IX conference talking about democratizing genetic information.

But course director Eric Topol, MD, from the Scripps Translational Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who is editor-in-chief of Medscape, told conference delegates that Holmes withdrew yesterday afternoon.

Dr Topol told Medscape Medical News that Holmes didn't want to come to the conference at this time; she is being advised not to speak publicly and would only be able to say, stay tuned.

"Right now, we are laser focused on the publication of our data, along with conducting in-depth scientific review sessions, and look forward to sharing the news in the coming months," a spokesperson from Theranos explained in an email.

Elizabeth Holmes (Source: Bret Hartman)

Elizabeth Holmes and her Palo Alto, California, diagnostics firm came under scrutiny after the US Food and Drug Administration said recently that the company was using an unapproved blood-collection device in their approach to the early detection and prevention of disease.

Facing possible penalties and loss of Medicare reimbursement, Theranos submitted a plan to government regulators on how it will correct violations at its laboratory, including one that poses "immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety," according to a recent inspection.

Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in the United States, threatened to terminate its relationship with Theranos unless the blood-testing company quickly fixes the problems found by federal inspectors, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The afternoon session at the conference proceeded without Holmes. Anne Wojcicki, cofounder and chief executive officer of 23andMe, and Jessica Richman, cofounder of uBiome, provided updates on the progress of efforts to democratize genetic information.


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