The witness, Surekha Gangakhedkar, a scientist who worked for Theranos for eight years before quitting over her concerns about the company’s capabilities, will continue her testimony Tuesday when the high-profile trial resumes in a San Jose federal courtroom.
Gangakhedkar testified Friday that Holmes was directly knowledgeable about the failings of its proprietary blood analyzer machine yet moved forward with the rollout of its devices to Walgreens locations.
Gangakhedkar, who first joined Theranos in 2005 and said she reported to Holmes for a time, testified that she returned from a nearly month-long vacation to learn the company planned to soon use its devices to test patient samples, despite what she said were unresolved reliability issues. She said she felt pressured by Holmes to validate tests for patient use.
Gangakhedkar, who was granted immunity against self-incrimination by Judge Edward Davila ahead of testifying, said she spoke directly to Holmes about her decision to quit, including her concerns with the plans to move forward with the launch.
Holmes, Gangakhedkar testified, responded by conveying “that when she has a promise to deliver to the customer, she doesn’t have much of a choice but to go ahead with the launch.”
Holmes faces a dozen counts of federal fraud and conspiracy charges and faces up to 20 years in prison. She has pleaded not guilty.
Striking a partnership with Walgreens in 2013 lent significant credibility to the startup. Together, the two built “wellness centers” within some Walgreens locations. It was the company’s only active direct-to-consumer partner before things came crashing down after a Wall Street Journal investigation into Theranos’ technology and testing methods prompted broader scrutiny.
(Walgreens sued Theranos for breach of contract, seeking to recover the $140 million it poured into the company. The lawsuit was settled August 2017.)
Gangakhedkar testified that she printed out documents pertaining to her work at the company because she was “worried about the launch,” even though doing so was in violation of her non-disclosure agreement. “I was actually scared that things would not go well. And I was also worried that I would be blamed,” adding that she took the documents to protect herself.
Among those expected to testify soon is Daniel Edlin, a former senior project manager at Theranos who mostly reported directly to Holmes. According to a recent court document, Edlin’s responsibilities included managing the company’s relationship with Walgreens.