The Dropout real story: Elizabeth Holmes ‘upset’ professor by ignoring advice for Theranos

The Dropout: Official trailer from Disney+

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The convicted fraudster was once touted as “the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire” by Forbes magazine after she seemingly made a breakthrough in the way diseases are detected. However, seven years later, and the Theranos founder who pushed a phoney blood-testing technology, has seen her world fall apart. Holmes, who was found guilty of fraud in January, is being profiled in new Hulu and Disney+ miniseries, ‘The Dropout’.

The former businesswoman, who dropped out of Stanford University, is played by Amanda Seyfried.

A teaser clip of the Hollywood actor’s portrayal released last month shows her capturing Holmes’ distinctive deep voice.

The Theranos founder’s former business partner and ex-boyfriend Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, who goes on trial this month, is played by Naveen Andrews.

The cast also includes William H Macy as US physician Richard Fuisz and Laurie Metcalf as Holmes’ former Stanford professor Phyllis Gardner.

Stephen Fry also appears as Theranos’ former chief scientist Ian Gibbons, who took a fatal overdose in 2013.

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In Holmes’ real story, she dropped out of Stanford in 2004 to focus on Theranos after rejecting the advice of Dr Gardner.

The professor spoke of her “upset” at being ignored by Holmes in an interview in January this year before the Theranos founder’s trial.

She told the BBC: “She just stared through me.

“And she just seemed absolutely confident of her own brilliance.

“She wasn’t interested in my expertise, and it was upsetting.”

Holmes arrived at Stanford in 2002 to study chemical engineering before she came up with an idea for a seemingly revolutionary blood-testing technology.

The idea was a patch that could diagnose health issues from a wearer’s blood and release the necessary medication to tackle their illnesses.

Dr Gardner poured cold water on Holmes’ plans from the start, raising concerns over the science of her skin patch idea.

The professor claimed she told her: “I don’t think your idea is going to work”.

Despite the warning, Holmes ploughed ahead and received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the company from huge investors, including media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

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But the businesswoman, who was once touted as the next Steve Jobs, was exposed in an investigation by the Wall Street Journal.

The US newspaper ran a series of articles, beginning in October 2015, revealing that Theranos’ medical results were unreliable.

Around this time, scientific issues with Theranos were flagged by the US medicines regulator, the Food and Drug Administration.

Investors soon began to distance themselves from Theranos, which was valued at $9billion (£6.5billion) at its peak.

By 2016, Forbes had revised Holmes’ net worth to zero as the net began to close on the fallen entrepreneur.

A legal battle with Theranos’ former partner, US pharmacy giant Walgreens, ensued, while there were layoffs at the blood-testing firm as it downsized.

By 2018 the company collapsed, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos and Holmes with “massive fraud”.

Holmes was found guilty of three counts of fraud and one count of conspiring to defraud private investors in the US in January.

She is due to be sentenced on September 26 and could face up to 20 years behind bars.

‘The Dropout’ premiers on Disney+ in the UK today.

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