As news broke in July about Theranos receiving Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for their herpes blood test, so too has interest in their eccentric CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
Recently named the youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes magazine, Holmes has taken center stage due to her brain child Theranos and its revolutionary method of lab work. The 12-year-old company uses just a few drops of blood instead of entire viles required by traditional tests, and the costs to consumers are 25-50% less than amounts currently charged by laboratories.
The idea came in 2003 while Holmes was just 19 years old. As a chemical engineer major, she was fascinated by the concept of transmitting information to doctors in real time. After returning from a summer internship, she submitted a patent application that would one day lead to Theranos’s creation. As a constant workaholic – working 16 hour days every day of the week – Holmes now holds 18 patents for her inventions and technological advances in this field.
Amazingly, Holmes founded Theranos in her sophomore year at Stanford and later dropped out of college in order to focus on the company. Part of the focus was to raise funds to complete the research, and her company has raised more than $400 million from investors and equity companies.
Success has followed her from the onset of this undertaking. Thanks to Theranos’s success, Holmes is worth an estimated $4.6 billion.
Images of Holmes are almost always of the slender blonde dressed in all-back business attire and a black turtle neck, akin to what her idol – the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs – wore. If Holmes can attain a similar measure of the success Jobs enjoyed, then the healthcare field is in for a disruptive force that will revolutionize how medical tests are performed in the future.