Controversial health startup Theranos has barely any medical experts on its board of directors

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Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’ founder, CEO, and board chairwoman.
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Theranos/Screenshot

A Wall Street Journal report published Thursday suggests Theranos, the $10 billion health startup that says its blood tests can be done quickly using a single drop, has a few problems.

In a follow-up article published later Thursday evening, The Journal reported that the company had stopped using its signature finger-prick blood test on all but one of its more than 240 blood tests at the request of government regulators who are looking into the company’s technology.

The company, which is unlike any other, also has a board whose makeup is unlike that of most other health companies. Its members are:

    George P. Shultz – former US secretary of stateGary Roughead – retired US Navy admiralWilliam J. Perry – former US secretary of defenseSam Nunn – former US senator who served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on InvestigationsJames N. Mattis – retired US Marine Corps generalRichard Kovacevich – former CEO of Wells FargoHenry A. Kissinger – former US secretary of stateWilliam H. Frist – heart and lung transplant surgeon and former US senatorWilliam H. Foege – former director of the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionRiley P. Bechtel – chairman of the board of the Bechtel Group Inc., a construction companySunny Balwani – president and COO of TheranosElizabeth Holmes – CEO and chairman of the board of Theranos

To make sure we got all that: that’s six former government officials, two former military leaders, two corporation leaders, two members of Theranos’ leadership, and two men who graduated from medical school. As my colleague Kevin Loria writes over at Tech Insider:

“The caliber of the board suggests that Theranos must have developed a transformative innovation, but other than Frist, who has not practiced medicine in many years, only Foege is a medical professional.

Take Quest Diagnostics, one of Theranos’ big competitors: Its board is filled with leaders in health insurance and pharmaceuticals like former Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Vicky B. Gregg and Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeffrey M. Leiden. Or the pharmaceutical giant Merck, whose board is filled with leaders in the medical and academic world, like Thomas R. Cech, a University of Colorado professor of biochemistry, and Paul B. Rothman, dean of medical faculty and vice president for medicine at Johns Hopkins University, along with a smattering of corporate leaders.

We are about to see whether this powerhouse board can help Theranos navigate the controversy surrounding these inquiries into its signature test.