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Brainstorm Health: A Theranos Lesson, Health Sector Prognosis, BMS Celgene Deal

Hello and happy Friday, readers.

The Theranos debacle has now inspired multiple documentaries, podcasts, books, and planned feature films. The question is: Will all this cross-media coverage instill some wisdom in the health sector?

Former Harvard Medical School dean Dr. Jeffrey Flier is certainly trying to spread some lessons. Harvard has been scrutinized by the renewed onslaught of media attention for appointing Holmes to medical school’s board of fellows (Flier was dean at the time). Holmes had hoodwinked powerful men and politicians with little knowledge of health technology—but what was Harvard’s excuse?

In a remarkably candid op-ed published in BMJ, Flier tries to explain. And his insights bring up serious questions about the role and structure of non-fiduciary boards at respected academic institutions.

Here’s the key takeaway:

So what lessons did I learn from my involvement in Theranos-gate? Greater due diligence is needed, even for non-fiduciary boards like the Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows. Though this was never before a problem, and in most circumstances like it would not have been—she might have become the next Steve Jobs—broader socialization of new members and greater deliberation is important, perhaps more than I had realized. On the other hand, convincing great people to join such boards is critical to the health of many not-for-profit institutions, and sometimes you must strike while the iron is hot to engage them.

Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee


Venrock: The health IT market is frothy. The wizards over at Venrock are out with their latest report on the prognosis for health care IT in 2019. The general takeaway? The experts are optimistic—very, very optimistic. A striking 78% of the report participants think that the creation of new health IT companies will increase either somewhat or significantly this year. One key factor that could be a buzzkill? Troubles with hiring talent. You can read the full prognosis here. (Venrock)


Bristol-Myers shareholders bless the debated Celgene deal. Bristol-Myers Squibb shareholders controlling 75% of the company’s stock gave the green light to the company’s takeover bid for cancer biotech Celgene, clearing the way for a deal that had faced pushback from activist investors and criticism from several respected analysts. The deal is now expected to close before the end of the year. (Axios)


CDC homes in on E. coli outbreak source. The Centers for Disease Control may be closer to identifying the root cause of a recent E. coli outbreak that has spread across at least six states. The agency believes that contaminated ground beef may be the source, though the producer or distributor of the beef is still unknown. (Reuters)


China’s Workers Are Protesting Tech’s Deadly ‘996’ Overtime Culture. Jack Ma Says He Requires It, by Lulu Yilun Chen & Bloomberg

From 80s Relic to IPO: The Strange Tale of Chuck E. Cheeseby Kate Flaim

Google’s Chief Diversity Officer Is Out Amid Controversiesby Ellen McGirt

Buying a Tesla Is Going to Cost You Moreby Chris Morris

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
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