How Richard Ellson and Mark Fischer-Colbrie used Labcyte to transform life science research

Mark D. Fischer-Colbrie, president and CEO, Labcyte, Inc.

Mark D. Fischer-Colbrie, president and CEO, Labcyte, Inc.

NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Life Sciences

Award recipient


Mark D. Fischer-Colbrie

president and CEO

Labcyte, Inc.


Richard Ellson

co-founder and CTO

Labcyte, Inc.

Richard Ellson, co-founder and CTO, Labcyte, Inc.

Richard Ellson, co-founder and CTO, Labcyte, Inc.


Like many other Silicon Valley success stories, Labcyte, Inc.’s story begins in a garage. The original laboratory seemed an unlikely launching point for a company, which would produce a device with potentially unlimited applications that is helping to transform the way research work is done throughout the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.

Small-volume liquid handling, a crucial aspect of laboratory work in a number of scientific fields, including pharmacology and life sciences, has always been complicated.

The solution discovered by Labcyte co-founder Richard Ellson was to use acoustic waves to move liquids, which has become an industry-transforming product.

Labcyte’s touch-less liquid handling eliminates user error and cross contamination, works precisely with quantities far too small to be handled with other methods and dramatically reduces equipment costs.

President and CEO Mark D. Fischer-Colbrie joined in 2008 after a career centered on fast-growing start-up companies and helping bring novel products requiring significant R&D and “missionary” sales to market. His focused, strategic leadership was crucial in guiding Labcyte through difficult economic times with limited resources.

His challenge was to find a way to set the company up for survival despite low cash levels, expand the market beyond its initial customer set in the pharmaceutical industry, and chart a course that would enable them to increase sales and continue to grow the business.

By creating an all-purpose instrument, adding automation and developing software to make it easy to use, Labcyte’s customer base expanded. The technology is now being used to study the best combination of drugs to treat leukemia patients, how drugs bind to proteins and to discover biomarkers, leading to new diagnostics.

With more than 100 employees, Labcyte has been the recipient of multiple awards, holds 62 patents, and is poised for a future of continued growth, expansion and innovation.

How to reach: Labcyte, Inc.,