Sam Decombel


Current position: Chief Science Officer, FitnessGenes Ltd

Course: Biological Sciences (Genetics), 2007


This mentor can help students interested in sport, science and entrepreneurship.


Dr Samantha Decombel is the Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of FitnessGenes Limited, which is fast becoming the world's leading fitness genetic testing company. Using the combination of their customer's DNA and lifestyle data such as age, weight and activity levels, they provide their customers with proactive lifestyle recommendations to help them achieve their fitness goals, rather than simply identifying risks to their health.

FitnessGenes was many years in the making, and built on the platform developed under Sam’s first start up, DNA artwork company PlayDNA Ltd. With a PhD in Genetics from the University of Birmingham and several years working as a Technology Transfer Manager at both Birmingham and the University of Reading, her skillset in science, and experience gained in intellectual property and business were an ideal combination.

Sam’s successes with PlayDNA have been featured in publications as diverse as Forbes magazine, Lab Times and BBC radio, and she has even ventured into the BBC2 Dragons Den itself. Although not successful in securing funding from the dragons (despite Peter Jones being a fan of the artwork!), Sam was able to use the associated publicity to raise the profile of her latest genetic testing startup, FitnessGenes Ltd.

Formed in 2013, due to pre-existing channels to market FitnessGenes was an outstanding success from the start, with significant appetite for the product in the UK and US. Celebrity clients to date include rugby player Roger Wilson, Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies and a number of as yet undisclosed Hollywood celebrities. With a £225k government grant secured and the company’s first research paper on the ‘fat gene’ (a collaboration with Loughborough University) currently in peer review, FitnessGenes is making good on its promise to stay true to its academic roots.

A fierce proponent of equality, Sam found herself on national media in December 2015 prior to the birth of her first child after her battle over a pregnancy discrimination case with the EU Commission went viral, spawning a twitter fight back and earning her the hashtag #7monthsawesome, which was used to share hundreds of stories of the amazing things women were doing during the later stages of pregnancy! Unsurprisingly, the backlash caused as a result led to a swift conclusion and the EU Commission published a full-page apology online shortly afterwards.

FitnessGenes continues to go from strength to strength having secured over £1.2M in business angel funding to date and expanded operations to London, UK with a US west coast base to be confirmed shortly. Sam and the team have some very exciting plans in store for FitnessGenes in 2017!