Doing it Right: The Man Who Blew Up Theranos Started His Own Medical Testing Biotech

Published: Oct 06, 2017

Doing it Right: The Man Who Blew Up Theranos Started His Own Medical Testing Biotech October 4, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Tyler Schultz rose to fame as the insider who blew the whistle on the repeated failings of Theranos’ blood-testing technology. Now the 28-year-old is returning to the biotech industry at the head of his own startup, Flux Biosciences.

Much like the original intent of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, Flux Biosciences is looking to provide a personalized medical diagnostics for in-home use. According to Schultz’ LinkedIn profile, the young company uses magnetic sensing to bring the power of medical grade in-vitro diagnostics into the homes of consumers and patients. His vision is based on research he had done at Stanford University, he told Forbes.

The new startup was a finalist in the Forbes $500,000 Global Change the World Competition. The small company is using computer technology to “perform sensitive and quantitative point-of-care in vitro medical diagnostics.” Data for the diagnostics is taken from blood, urine or saliva samples. The biomarkers found in those samples will be measured as they relate to “exercise, stress, fertility, and diet.” Then those measurements will be correlated to a patient’s sleeping pattern and activity data collected from wearable technologies, Forbes said. The startup is initially focused on developing a test for testosterone levels in saliva.

Schultz worked for Theranos and Holmes for about eight months over 2013 and 2014. He is the grandson of one of the former directors of Theranos – former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz. The younger Schultz was the employee who first emailed his concerns about the efficacy of company technology to officials. Those emails led to investigations into the company that have resulted in crippling sanctions and a shift in the focus of Theranos. According to reports, Schultz initially raised concerns to company officials, but was dismissed by Sunny Balwani, the former president of the company. He also complained to his grandfather, but was also rebuked. After being stymied by company officials and his grandfather, Tyler reached out to New York state’s public-health lab about his concerns.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Schultz talked about his time at Theranos and what led him to alert regulators about the failing technology. During the interview, Schultz said most of Theranos’ staff “kind of knew that this thing didn’t actually live up to what we were claiming.”

Schultz said he never got far reaching out to official agencies and ultimately turned to The Wall Street Journal.

"Talking to the Wall Street Journal was way more effective than talking to [government regulators] or the company itself,” Schultz said.

Reaching out to the Journal led to a number of investigative articles about the blood-testing company which staggered the company once valued at $9 billion. After a number of scathing reports, the value of Theranos shrank dramatically to a few hundred million dollars. Holmes was also forced to pivot the company’s focus away from its failed blood-testing technology to a portable laboratory design.

After working for Holmes and seeing some of the problems that plagued the embattled Theranos, Schulz said that shaped the way he talks about the work Flux is performing. Instead of talking about “the bigger picture” Schultz said he talks about what his technology can actually do, Forbes reported.

"With Theranos I learned that entrepreneurs have to sell their vision," he told Forbes. "But you have to have some line between having a vision and seeing something that’s just not there.”

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