For the first time in Theranos's 13-year history, on Monday the company opened up its technology to the public in a presentation by CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Holmes spoke before an audience of medical professionals and scientists at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry's Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Philadelphia. The embattled CEO touted her company's MiniLab, a printerlike black box that promises to test blood samples and replace entire laboratories.

"What I'm showing you now is the result of hundreds of engineers' and scientists' work over many years: our MiniLab system," Holmes said at the expo.

The presentation was Holmes' first public appearance since Theranos's technology and lab tests came into question, thanks to a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal that began last October.

Since then, the company has been the subject of a  federal criminal investigation, has  voided two years of test results, and, most recently, received severe sanctions that ban Holmes from operating a laboratory for the next two years. (Holmes and Theranos may choose to appeal those sanctions.) Theranos's highest-profile client--the drugstore chain Walgreens--severed ties with the company in June. 

Throughout the presentation, Holmes walked the audience through the intricacies of the MiniLab and discussed studies she and her team have undertaken using the platform, as she calls it. Prior to her session, Holmes also highlighted the product in a report by CNN, saying the device has the potential to one day allow consumers to test samples right from their homes.

"There's no reason why these can't be distributed in very, very decentralized locations,"  Holmes told CNN.

The decision to finally offer transparency is a step in the right direction for Theranos, but Holmes and the company also failed to address some of the biggest concerns and questions regarding its technology.

For starters, Holmes dedicated less than a minute of her hour and a half long session to addressing the company's recent controversies. She made a point of emphasizing that the session would focus on Theranos's tech and its future, not past incidents.

"Today our presentation is focused on introducing key inventions and the associated science and results behind our technologies, as distinct from our operations of our clinical laboratories," Holmes said at the start of her session.

Holmes did accept full responsibility for Theranos's lab operations, but during the Q&A that followed her presentation, she repeatedly answered many of the toughest questions by simply saying that the company has more work to do to engage with the science and medical communities.

"There were these claims that were very broad early on ... And the evidence that you presented fell far short of that, so how should we think about that?" asked one of the session's moderators. (The question was greeted by substantial applause from the crowd.)

Holmes responded by saying that the company has a lot of work to do, and that she wished she had begun opening up Theranos's tech to the rest of the medical community earlier on.

"We have a lot of work to do to engage with this community," Holmes said.

Of higher concern is the way Holmes answered questions by CNN in a report published Monday, in which she continued to deflect blame from her stewardship and the technology. "We didn't have the right leadership in the laboratory, and we didn't have the implementation of the quality system in terms of procedures and the associated documentation to ensure that we were realizing the quality standards that we hold ourselves to," Holmes said to  CNN's Sanjay Gupta.

Gupta then told Holmes about a Theranos patient who believes he received erroneous test results that led him to avoid seeking further medical attention and he later suffered a heart attack as a result. 

"Is it possible that what he's saying is true?" Gupta asked Holmes. "Could he have gotten a lab result that was so askew that he didn't act on it and then a month later he ended up having a heart attack?"

Holmes responded by saying, "I'm not the lab director, and so--" but Gupta cut her off: "I know, but you're the CEO and founder of the company, and this is as serious as it gets."

"What I know," Holmes said, apparently retreating again to boilerplate, "is that I put the best people in place to be able to investigate every aspect of this and ensure that we meet the quality standards that we hold ourselves to, and I know they're doing that." 

We'll see if answers like that are enough for the marketplace and Theranos's potential customers. 

Published on: Aug 1, 2016