Scientific Advisory Boards: The Forgotten Shield

William J. Baker


The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is a lesser-known corporate governance tool ideally suited for biotech companies and other entities that rely upon scientific data. The SAB can review internal research, vet external communications, and generally serve as an objective and independent advisor on scientific matters. Despite such available utility, biotech business leaders regularly make claims unsupported by scientific reality. The risked result: the government and angry investors bringing suit.

This article aims to explain why SABs failed to prevent investor fraud and its legal fallout at several biotech companies. The introduction provides a background regarding SAB as a potential “shield” against investor fraud, Part I examines the SAB’s role at Theranos, Part II examines the SAB’s role at uBiome, Part III examines the SAB’s role at five lesser-known biotech companies, and Part IV presents conclusions and recommendations based on the findings.