Two months after sketchy blood-testing startup Theranos revealed it was closing all of its labs and firing hundreds of employees, the company announced a new round of bloodletting on Thursday with the “retirement” of its board of counsellors made up of former high-ranking government officials.
In a press release titled “Theranos Adds Silicon Valley Executive to Board of Directors,” the company said that former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz, former senators Bill Frist and Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense William Perry will all step down effective January 1.
Former General James Mattis, who US President-elect Donald Trump named as his nominee for Secretary of Defense on Thursday, will remain on the company’s board of directors.
In December, leaked emails revealed that Mattis pushed for battlefield tests of Theranos’ technology while overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2012. After Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes complained to Mattis that a compliance official had forwarded “misinformation” to the FDA about potential wrongdoing, Mattis asked military officials for advice on overcoming “this new obstacle.” A year later, Mattis retired from the Marines and joined the Theranos board.
In better days, the startup attracted a number of high-profile allies and investors by promising to perform a wide-range of medical tests using a single drop of blood. Last year, however, The Wall Street Journal published a series of scathing exposés questioning Theranos’ ability to deliver on those promises and the company’s fortunes fell.
Following the opening of a criminal investigation, two years of voided tests and a proposed two-year ban on operating a lab, Forbes lowered Holmes’ estimated net worth from $4.5 billion to nothing in June.
In a statement on Thursday, Holmes expressed her deep appreciation for “the distinguished individuals” who served on the board of counsellors, a body created after criticism that then-members of its board of directors like Kissinger lacked medical expertise.
“We have been so fortunate to have the counsel of this group, and I am grateful for their ongoing support of our company,” wrote Holmes.