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Who Was Ian Gibbons, The Theranos Chemist Featured In 'The Dropout' Who Died By Suicide?

Ian Gibbons died by suicide after expressing anxiety over having to testify about fraud at Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes' failed company.

By Gina Tron
Elizabeth Holmes G

One of the most tragic parts of Hulu’s “The Dropout” is the suicide of one of Theranos’ biochemists.

In the series, British chemist Ian Gibbons (Stephen Fry) becomes withdrawn and depressed after getting demoted at work. Then he discovers that the very invention and technology that Theranos is based upon doesn’t work. Soon after he was deposed to testify in court about Theranos, he takes his own life with an overdose of Tylenol. In a devastating scene, his wife discovers that he died by suicide in their bathroom.

Indeed, Ian Gibbons was the chief scientist of Theranos and he died by suicide in 2013, CBS News reported earlier this year after Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ conviction.

Holmes was indicted in 2018 for defrauding numerous investors by making false claims about the breakthrough medical technology, she had allegedly developed at her company. But the procedure she proposed: the ability to test multiple ailments with just a drop of blood, wasn’t technically possible; she had faked a prototype of the device. A jury convicted her on four fraud counts in January.

Holmes hired GIbbons in 2005 to be the chief scientist at the company. In fact, he was one of her very first hires. But soon, Gibbons realized that the revolutionary technology that Holmes had boasted about simply didn't exist. 

"He started talking to me about all these investments, all the money that the company is bringing in,” his wife Rochelle told CBS. "And he told me that he couldn't imagine why people were giving the company any money because there was no invention, there was nothing there," 

Gibbons brought up some of his concerns with a former Theranos board member which resulted in him getting fired. Hours later, he was rehired, but demoted. By 2013, his wife said he became depressed over the work drama and began drinking heavily. She claims that he intentionally overdosed in response to fears of losing his job if he told the truth in an upcoming court deposition.

He died eight days after the overdose.

Gibbons was 67. 

Holmes reportedly reacted to the Cambridge University graduate's death quite coldly, according to an October 2016 Vanity Fair piece. 

"When Rochelle called Holmes's office to explain what had happened, the secretary was devastated and offered her sincere condolences," the piece states. "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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