Who Was Ian Gibbons? New Details About The British Scientist Who Died By Suicide While Working For Elizabeth Holmes

Theranos is a now-defunct company.

Who Was Ian Gibbons? New Details About The British Scientist Who Died By Suicide While Working For Elizabeth Holmes

If you’ve been living under a rock, you likely may not know about Elizabeth Holmes and the controversy surrounding her and her biotech company Theranos. Originally founded in 2003 by Holmes, who was 19 at the time, the now-defunct company claimed to have created blood tests that only needed a small amount of blood, claims that turned out to be false.

But in 2015, John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal questioned if these claims were valid. Following his questioning, Theranos began facing challenges from investors and medical experts, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, attorneys general, patients, and business partners.


Seemingly overnight, the company neared bankruptcy and ceased operations in September 2018.

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Though there’s much to know about Holmes and Theranos, most recently from a documentary called The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is now on Netflix, as well as a Nightline podcast and documentary about Holmes called The Dropout, what about the other individuals who worked for Theranos? Who was Ian Gibbons, specifically?


1. He was extremely educated.

Gibbons had a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge. For 30 years, he worked on therapeutic products and diagnostics for Biotrack Laboratories. Together with Channing Robertson, an engineer, they patented a mechanism to mix and dilute liquid samples. This patent would later be applied to processes at Theranos.

2. He was one of the first scientists hired.

Gibbons was the chief scientist at Theranos and was a biochemist. He was hired in 2005 by Holmes, and was the “first experienced scientists hired, with the title ‘Senior Director, Assay Development.’”


3. He had many qualms with Theranos.



#badbloodseries #theranos #falseillusion

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His duties at Theranos included giving lectures on biochemistry and blood testing. He insisted that the blood test results from the devices “match benchmark results of competitors' commercial analyzers.”

However, over time, he grew frustrated that the results were off. His high standards caused problems within the company, while senior management officials warned employees not to question the technology and its accuracy.

Holmes also discouraged departments from communicating, saying the company wanted to protect its trade secrets. But her practice prevented employees from solving problems, and led Gibbons to further question the company.


According to Carreyou’s book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, Gibbons would often confide in his wife, saying that “nothing at Theranos is working.”

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4. He was eventually fired.

In 2010, Holmes fired Gibbons due to his complaints and frustrations. However, he was rehired after many of his colleagues stood by him. He then was given less responsibilities and became a technical consultant.

5. He was subpoenaed.

In a lawsuit from inventor Richard Fuisz, Gibbons was named on a list of witnesses to be deposed. Fuisz alleged that Theranos technology and that of Biotrack, which Gibbons worked for, were reusing past work.


Once he learned he would have to testify, Gibbons became depressed, fearing that he would lose his job if he told the truth and that patients would be misdiagnosed or die if he lied.

6. He passed away unexpectedly.



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Shortly after joining Theranos, Gibbons was diagnosed with cancer. However, in 2013, he was found unconscious by his wife after overdosing on acetaminophen. He passed away less than one week later due to a destroyed liver. While Gibbons was found on May 16th, he was scheduled to appear at the law offices regarding Fuisz’s suit just one day later, on May 17th. 

7. Holmes responded very coldly to the news that Gibbons died.

Vanity Fair reported that Holmes' reaction to Gibbons death was one without empathy or care. According to the piece, "When Rochelle [his wife] called Holmes' office to explain what had happened, the secretary was devastated and offered her sincere condolences. She told Rochelle Gibbons that she would let Holmes know immediately. But a few hours later, rather than a condolence message from Holmes, Rochelle instead received a phone call from someone at Theranos demanding that she immediately return any and all confidential Theranos property."


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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.