Is The Dropout’s Mark Roessler Based on Theranos’ Adam Rosendorff?

‘The Dropout’ details the journey of Elizabeth Holmes and her health care startup company Theranos. A promising company with the intention of innovating tech in the blood testing sector, Theranos attracts plenty of investments and support early on. However, Holmes’ company resorts to fraudulent practices and creates a secretive environment in its office.

Lab director Mark Roessler keeps working as guided by the company higher-ups until finally breaking under pressure and decides to become an anonymous whistleblower. It is natural for viewers to wonder whether the character is based on a real person. In that case, here’s everything we have gathered on the matter!

Is Mark Roessler Based on Adam Rosendorff?

Mark Roessler is introduced in the fifth episode of ‘The Dropout.’ Actor Kevin Sussman essays the role of Roessler in the series. Sussman is arguably best known for playing the part of Stuart Bloom in the hit sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ Sussman’s Roessler is an important part of the narrative in ‘The Dropout’ and works as a lab director at Theranos. He is the superior of Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung. When the duo tries to raise their concerns over Theranos’ methods of testing blood samples and manipulating data, Roessler dissuades them from making it a big deal.

Image Credit: Adam Rosendorff/LinkedIn

However, later on, Roessler contacts Richard Fuisz and informs him of the malpractices at Theranos. He becomes an anonymous source for investigative journalist John Carreyrou, who has launched his own research into Theranos and its work. Although the show’s makers have not confirmed whether Roessler is based on a real person, the character seems to be inspired by former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff. The fictional character bears a physical resemblance to Rosendorff.

Rosendorff was born in South Africa and moved to the United States in 1993. He studied at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and graduated with a degree in medicine. He joined Theranos in 2013 but left the company in 2014. Rosendorff said that he spoke with a reporter at The Wall Street Journal (which published articles about Theranos’ fraudulent practices) in 2015. However, Rosendorff’s role as an anonymous source was only revealed after he was subpoenaed in court to testify in the lawsuit against Elizabeth Holmes.

According to Rosendorff’s testimony, he personally witnessed the failure of Theranos’ technology and even claimed that Holmes was aware of the device’s failures in generating accurate test results. Rosendorff also expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s practices in an email to Holmes. Rosendorff presently works as a Laboratory and Medical Director for PerkinElmer Inc. He is one of the most well-known witnesses of Elizabeth Holmes’ trial.

All things said Rosendorff’s story is partially similar to that of fictional character Mark Roessler in ‘The Dropout.’ However, the show’s creative team likely opted not to use Rosendorff’s name to have more creative freedom while crafting the narrative based on actual events. For example, the scenes depicting Roessler promoting Theranos’ culture of secretive work environment appear to be fictional. Hence, it is safe to say that Roessler is only partially based on Rosendorff.

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