convicted and sentenced

Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud

Former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes had her day in court on November 18. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A former Houstonian who became the face of recent white-collar, Silicon Valley fraud case is facing more than a decade in prison.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison on Friday, November 18 in San Jose, California. The sentencing comes her conviction in January for defrauding Theranos investors.

“I suppose we step back and ask what is the pathology of fraud? Is it the refusal to accept responsibility or express contrition in any way?" Judge Edward Davila said during the ruling, according to Yahoo! Finance. "Perhaps that is the cautionary tale that will go forward from this case."

Specifically, Holmes' sentence is 11 years and three months in prison, with another three years of supervision after release. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million to be paid at a later date. Davila ordered Holmes, who is widely expected to appeal her sentence, to turn herself into custody on April 27, 2023.

Once compared to disruptors and innovators Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Holmes rose to fame by enticing investors with the promise that her Theranos could run hundreds of blood tests via a simple pin prick. Buzz for Theranos grew to the point that Theranos was valued at $9 billion, which made Holmes the world’s first self-made female billionaire.

Yet, after securing more than $900 million in funding, Theranos was proven to be essentially bogus by the Wall Street Journal in 2015.

Facing up to 20 years in prison, a tearful Holmes, who is pregnant, addressed the court. "I stand before you taking responsibility for Theranos," she said, per Yahoo. "I loved Theranos. It was my life’s work. My team meant the world to me. They wanted to make a difference in the world. I am devastated by my failings," she said. "Every day for the past years, I have felt deep pain for the people…those people who believe in us and those patients. I worked so hard to serve. I gave everything I had to try to to build...Theranos. Looking back, there are so many things I would do differently. I tried to realize my dream too quickly."

Holmes is the subject of a Hulu documentary, The Dropout, which centers on her early life in Houston, where she grew up in Tanglewood and attended St. John's School. Her father's layoff from Enron is presented as clearly an inciting incident in her life. As The Dropout depicts, Holmes would meet boyfriend/partner Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, drop out of Stanford, and launch Theranos.

One of the most memorable lines in the miniseries comes when a young Holmes plainly states her goals at a family gathering. "I wanna be a billionaire," she said plainly — a memorable and clearly prophetic statement.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Here's what Houston research news dominated this year on InnovationMap. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. In many cases, innovative startups originate from meticulous research deep within institutions. This past year, InnovationMap featured stories on these research institutions — from their breakthrough innovations to funding fueling it all. Here are five Houston research-focused articles that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.


Texas nonprofit cancer research funder doles out millions to health professionals moving to Houston

These cancer research professionals just got fresh funding from a statewide organization. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Thanks in part to multimillion-dollar grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, two top-flight cancer researchers are taking key positions at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Pavan Reddy and Dr. Michael Taylor each recently received a grant of $6 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Reddy is leaving his position as chief of hematology-oncology and deputy director at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center to become director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. C. Kent Osborne stepped down as the center’s director in 2020; Dr. Helen Heslop has been the interim director. Continue reading.

Rice University deploys grant funding to 9 innovative Houston research projects

Nine research projects at Rice University have been granted $25,000 to advance their innovative solutions. Photo courtesy of Rice

Over a dozen Houston researchers wrapped up 2021 with the news of fresh funding thanks to an initiative and investment fund from Rice University.

The Technology Development Fund is a part of the university’s Creative Ventures initiative, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants since its inception in 2016. Rice's Office of Technology Transfer orchestrated the $25,000 grants across nine projects. Submissions were accepted through October and the winners were announced a few weeks ago. Continue reading.

Houston researchers create unprecedented solar energy technology that improves on efficiency

Two researchers out of the University of Houston have ideated a way to efficiently harvest carbon-free energy 24 hours a day. Photo via Getty Images

Two Houstonians have developed a new system of harvesting solar energy more efficiently.

Bo Zhao, the Kalsi Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, along with his doctoral student Sina Jafari Ghalekohneh, have created a technology that theoretically allows solar energy to be harvested to the thermodynamic limit, which is the absolute maximum rate sunlight can be converted into electricity, as reported in a September article for Physical Review Applied.

Traditional solar thermophotovoltaics (STPVs), or the engines used to extract electrical power from thermal radiation, run at an efficiency limit of 85.4 percent, according to a statement from UH. Zhao and Ghalekohneh's system was able to reach a rate of 93.3 percent, also known as the Landsberg Limit. Continue reading.

Texas A&M receives $10M to create cybersecurity research program

Texas A&M University has announced a new cybersecurity-focused initiative. Photo via tamu.edu

Texas A&M University has launched an institute for research and education regarding cybersecurity.

The Texas A&M Global Cyber Research Institute is a collaboration between the university and a Texas A&M University System engineering research agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The research agency and Texas A&M are also home to the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

The institute is funded by $10 million in gifts from former Texas A&M student Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist and cybersecurity expert, and other donors. Continue reading.

Houston research organization doles out $28M in grants to innovators across Texas

Houston-based Welch Foundation has awarded almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. Photo via Getty Images

Chemical researchers at seven institutions in the Houston area are receiving nearly $12.9 million grants from the Houston-based Welch Foundation.

In the Houston area, 43 grants are going to seven institutions:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Rice University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University Health Science Center
  • University of Houston
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

The Welch Foundation is awarding almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. The money will be allocated over a three-year period. Continue reading.

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