Former Wall Street Journal Reporter John Carreyrou Reveals Ex-Theranos CLIA Laboratory Director and Pathologist Was Main Source for 2015 Investigation into Theranos
WSJ reporter affirms that the pathologist was his “first and most important source” in confirming the problems at the now-defunct medical lab testing company
During the federal fraud trial of Theranos Founder and former-CEO Elizabeth Holmes, no one has spent more days on the witness stand than ex-Theranos Laboratory Director Adam Rosendorff, MD, the pathologist who testified for the prosecution that he repeatedly warned Holmes about problems with Theranos’ flawed Edison blood-testing device.
Dark Daily’s previous ebrief on the ongoing Holmes’ fraud trial reported that Rosendorff, who is board certified in clinical pathology, had testified, “I told her that the potassium was unreliable, the sodium was unreliable, the glucose was unreliable, [and] explained why. She was very nervous. She was not her usual composed self. She was trembling a bit, her knee was tapping, her voice was breaking up. She was clearly upset.”
It should come as no surprise that in response Holmes’ lawyers attempted to paint Rosendorff as an “incompetent” lab director with a resume littered with failures at other biotech companies. According to court documents, Holmes faces 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly misleading investors, clinical laboratories, patients, and healthcare providers about Theranos’ proprietary blood-testing technology.
But the many clinical laboratory professionals closely watching the Holmes trial will be equally interested to learn that outside of the courtroom former Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter John Carreyrou confirmed on Twitter that Rosendorff was the main source for his 2015 investigative reporting—which first called into question Theranos’ claim that it could run more than 200 blood tests using a finger-prick of blood—as well as for his subsequent book, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.”
Carreyrou Declares Ex-Theranos Lab Director Adam Rosendorff a Hero
“So, I’ve been fielding queries from reporters asking me to confirm that former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff, who is currently testifying at Elizabeth Holmes’ trial, was my source. I can now confirm it. Alan Beam = Adam Rosendorff,” Carreyrou tweeted.
“I’ll add this: Adam was my first and most important source. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to break the Theranos story. Hats off to his courage and integrity. He’s one of the real heroes of this story,” Carreyrou added in a subsequent Tweet.
Inside the San Jose, Calif., courtroom, pathologist Rosendorff took centerstage, completing six days on the witness stand as Holmes’ defense attorney Lance Wade, JD, sought to undermine Rosendorff’s earlier testimony for the prosecution and question his competence as a laboratory leader.
Rosendorff Testifies About Another CMS Investigation at Lab Where He is Medical Director
In “Former Theranos Lab Director Questioned about Faulty Lab Tests at Current Employer,” the WSJ reported that, in an attempt to undermine Rosendorff’s credibility, Holmes’ lawyers questioned him about another lab that was investigated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) while he was lab director.
Rosendorff acknowledged during cross examination that he risked losing his license as a lab director after the CMS inspectors uncovered testing deficiencies at PerkinElmer’s Valencia (California) Branch Laboratory as well, where Rosendorff currently serves as Laboratory and Medical Director.
According to the WSJ, Rosendorff testified that most of the CMS inspection involved reviewing documents. During cross examination, it was revealed that the same CMS inspectors who investigated Theranos also conducted the PerkinElmer lab investigation.
Defense attorneys also had hoped to question Rosendorff about his previous work at uBiome Inc., a startup that was the target of a 2019 federal probe into its lab test billing practices, CNBC reported.
The Mercury News reported that during an October 5 hearing to determine the extent to which Holmes’ legal team could cross examine Rosendorff about his past employment, Wade told US District Judge Edward Davila that Rosendorff had a failed record as a lab leader. The Holmes defense lawyer alleged a link between “unreliable test results” at the biotechnology company Rosendorff went to after leaving Theranos and claimed that Rosendorff’s work at PerkinElmer resulted in the CMS notice of “serious deficiencies” at the lab.
“[Rosendorff] pointed the finger at many other people, including my client,” Wade told Davila. “He appears to almost never have competently done his job. He was incompetent at Theranos, too, and that is the reason many of the failures happened. He’s the person who’s ultimately responsible in the laboratory,” he added.
Nevertheless, Judge Davila prohibited questions regarding Rosendorff’s employment at uBiome and limited the scope of questions about his current role at PerkinElmer.
Holmes’ Attorneys Challenge Rosendorff’s Testimony During Cross Examination
After leaving Theranos, Rosendorff’s LinkedIn profile shows he served as Laboratory Director at San Francisco-based Invitae from December 2014 to September 2017 before moving to Millennium Health in San Diego as Medical Director from December 2017 to January 2021. He joined PerkinElmer in January.
The WSJ reported that Rosendorff’s ties to uBiome showed up in Theranos court records.
The WSJ also noted that during the multiday cross examination of Rosendorff, the Holmes defense team scored points by “pointing to contradictions in his testimony and challenging his assertions that he wanted to expose Theranos’ testing practices to the government.”
In making his point, Wade read aloud from a deposition Rosendorff gave during a separate case in which he claimed that Theranos did not have a greater number of anomalous test results than other labs where he had previously worked.
“And that’s 180 degrees from what you answered in your direct testimony,” Wade said to Rosendorff during cross examination.
“Yes, it seems to be different,” Rosendorff replied, but also noted that Theranos should have fewer errors than a lab with a much higher volume of tests.
Wade also introduced a November 2014 email in which Rosendorff told a colleague he knew of only one time when Theranos provided to a patient an obviously incorrect test result. Rosendorff had previously testified that he alerted Holmes on numerous occasions about his concerns with ongoing testing errors.
Wade also questioned whether Rosendorff had a financial motive for considering a whistleblower lawsuit against Theranos, pointing out that Rosendorff would be entitled to a portion of any damages recovered. Rosendorff responded that he did not have a profit motive in mind when he forwarded more than 150 Theranos emails to his personal account.
Former WSJ Reporter Carreyrou May Be Called to Testify
Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists will be fascinated with another twist that surfaced as this trial continued. Former WSJ reporter Carreyrou became personally intertwined with the Holmes’ trial after it came to light that the investigative reporter—whose podcast “Bad Blood: The Final Chapter” spotlights the ongoing fraud trial—is on Holmes’ potential witness list.
In “Elizabeth Holmes Accused of ‘Cynical Ruse’ to Harass ‘Bad Blood’ Author by Putting Him on Witness List,” The Mercury News reported that the former WSJ journalist had filed a motion in court on October 1 contending his inclusion on the witness list is an effort to stop him from attending the trial and reporting firsthand on proceedings.
The motion, The Mercury News reported, states that “Placing Carreyrou on the witness list was done in bad faith and was designed to harass him,” and calls his placement on the list “a cynical ruse” that violates Carreyrou’s First Amendment rights.
CNN reported that Carreyrou’s attorneys are asking that the exclusion order (which prevents some witnesses from being inside the courtroom during other witness testimonies) or the gag order (which allows witnesses to discuss their testimonies only with their attorneys) not be applied to Carreyrou.
For clinical laboratory scientists awaiting the next installment in the now six-week-old trial, former Safeway CEO Steven Burd (now founder and CEO of Burd Health) will continue his testimony on the failed partnership between the grocery store chain and Theranos.
The Theranos agreement with Safeway is not as well-known as the Theranos-Walgreens deal. This was another news story written by Carreyrou and published by the WSJ on Nov. 10, 2015, titled, “Safeway, Theranos Split after $350 Million Deal Fizzles.”
As part of that agreement, Safeway spent $350 million to remodel 800 of its grocery stores to have a patient service center (PCS) and laboratory space where the unproven Edison device would be used to perform the clinical laboratory tests.
The testimony in this next phase of trial about the Safeway agreement with Theranos, and Holmes’ role in convincing the Safeway executive team to invest a third of a billion dollars to build 800 PSCs and lab spaces in 800 stores, should be as interesting as the witness testimony given earlier in this trial.
—Andrea Downing Peck