I came across this article in the New Yorker written by Ken Auletta, on the innovative and influential work by Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of blood diagnostics lab, Theranos. Theranos was created when Holmes was finishing high school!
Over time, Holmes was driving all energy into developing Theranos and the process it would introduce into both the medical and technology worlds. Aulett writes of Holmes, “she became convinced that they could accomplish five objectives: extract blood without syringes, make a diagnosis from a few drops of blood, automate the tests to minimize human error, do the test and get the results more quickly, and do this more economically.”
I know that I’m citing Aulett’s writing-I know nothing about phlebotomy, chemical engineering, or medical devices; I want to preserve Theranos’ process as described:
“As a state secret, and Holmes’s description of the process was comically vague: “A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.” She added that, thanks to “miniaturization and automation, we are able to handle these tiny samples.” *
“Lab-on-a-chip technology, which allows multiple measurements to be taken from tiny amounts of liquid on a single microchip” (Aulett).
“I think people can benefit tremendously from really asking why they’re doing certain things,” says Holmes.” *
Reading about her personal ethos is inspiring-I don’t have anything else to say, I’m sort of mouth agape at her intensity. It’s special to read about such a beneficial and global force in our world-not building toys and gadgets just for profit, but genuinely chasing, concepting, engineering, producing innovations for us, today and tomorrow.
“We define Theranos as: Detecting the onset of disease in time for therapy to be effective. So we can begin to build a world where no one finds out too late that something is wrong. And no one has to say goodbye too soon.” *
I’m overwhelmed by the persistence, energy, and constancy of this woman and her devotion to industry. I appreciate this attitude and dedication to purpose, tricky to emulate as I’m not a wizard at anything. Inspiring, still; refreshing.
“live what that means.”
Reads & References
- Ken Auletta, Blood, Simpler
- Debora Peterson, Elizabeth Holmes: “I Wasn’t Weighted by Influences That I Couldn’t Do It”
- TEDMED, Elizabeth Holmes
- Steven M. Chan, John Chadwick, Daniel L. Young, Elizabeth Holmes, Jason Gotlib. Hematology Reports. 2014. Intensive serial biomarker profiling for the prediction of neutropenic fever in patients with hematologic malignancies undergoing chemotherapy: a pilot study. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/hr.2014.5466
Image source: New Horizons, NASA