Systems Biology Laboratory, SBL, is a small self-funded not-for-profit research lab.

Our aim is to apply DNA sequencing technology to provide solutions to common health-care problems.

We have developed a digital microbiology workflow to rapidly identify and quantify all bacteria, yeast and DNA viruses present in a biological sample.

Meet The Team

Mike Fischer


Mike founded SBL in 2004.

He is strongly committed to the proven methodology of continuous improvement – identifying opportunities for a performance breakthrough, engaging passionate frontline leaders to create a process and identifying what works and then refining a process that can be scaled.

As a serial entrepreneur he’s applied this ethos to co-found and manage highly successful companies such as Research Machines, Fischer Family Trust Education, Alamy and Videoloft.

His charitable trust, the Fischer Family Foundation, FFF, funds SBL and a range of educational research and intervention programs aim to reduce childhood illiteracy through improved education systems.

Mike has two degrees from Oxford University, an honorary doctorate from the Open University and a CBE for this work in education.

When he’s not improving the world he can be found 3D printing things, visiting erupting volcanoes and diving on shipwrecks.

Nick Parkinson

Scientific Director

Nick helped drive and develop the Digital Microbiology programme started in 2018 as a direct response to his experience of NHS management of recurrent UTIs suffered by one of his family.

He joined SBL in 2008 from Oxford University where he was a senior post-doc researching Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Previously he held post-doc positions researching dementia genetics at the Institute of Neurology, London, and deafness genetics at both the MRC Mammalian Genetic Unit, Harwell and the University of Washington, Seattle, USA.

Nick gained his PhD in molecular genetics in 1998 at the University College and Royal Free Medical School, London and BSc degree in Genetics & Zoology at Leeds University.

He’s luke warm about football, loves golf and is a committed McLaren F1 fan.

Ben Ferneyhough

Laboratory Manager

As well as keeping the stores stocked and the whole lab turning Ben spends his time processing samples, running countless antibiotic sensitivity cultures and mastering the MALDI-ToF.

He joined SBL in 2004 from Oxford Brookes University where he spent 11 years teaching the nursing degree course, as well as a variety of undergraduate and post-graduate anatomy and physiology modules.

Ben gained his PhD in 2000 at Oxford Brookes University, studying the behavioural development of olfactory learning in the honey bee, Apis mellifera, and a degree in Applied Biology from Nottingham Trent University.

He enjoys eating out, seeing live music and making tunes using his analogue synthesisers !.

Matt Roddis

Process Manager

Matt joined the team very early on, way back in 2006. He is Process Manager at SBL and oversees the workflows for the samples coming into the laboratory.

After obtaining a BSc in Biology from the University of York, he went on to spend several years in academia and the biotechnology industry working on autoimmunity, immunomodulation and cancer vaccines.

He enjoys sports (mostly watching rather than participating these days), live music and comedy, and long country walks with his dog.

Sam Millington

Lead Software Engineer

Sam joined the team in 2021 to help build the Digital Microbiology platform.

While studying physics at Bath, he discovered his passion for coding and enjoys creating software that does good.

When not at his desk, he enjoys walking his dog and experimenting in the kitchen.

Jess Quirk

Lab Research Assistant

Jess joined the team in 2020 whilst also studying Biomedical Sciences at The University of Bristol.

After obtaining her BSc she briefly left the team to travel around Australia and East Asia before returning in early 2024 to assist Matt with the processing of samples in the laboratory.

She enjoys travelling, eating out and catching up with friends.

Chrysolin Clements

Software Developer

Chrysolin joined SBL as a Software Developer in 2022 and helps develop and maintain our in-house software.

After completing MCA (Master of Computer Applications) from VJTI (University of Mumbai), she worked with software companies using various technologies and is now a proud member of the SBL team.

When not coding, she enjoys baking, reading and a nice walk in the countryside.

Grace Simmonds

Advertising and Social Media Consultant

Grace is a skilled Graphic Designer with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design which she obtained from the University of Bournemouth in 2005. Since then, she has gained valuable experience in the design industry in both London and her hometown Cambridge.

Grace has spent the last year focused on creating captivating social media designs and advertisements for Digital Microbiology.

Outside of work, she prioritises spending quality time with her husband, two young daughters and their flat-coated retriever.

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