CEO & Founder
Jonathan Blackburn set out to create iMed Laboratories as part of his mission to improve the lives of South Africans suffering from drug addiction. He sought to provide a cost-effective solution for businesses seeking to determine if employees are using drugs, both for safety and productivity reasons. iMed Laboratories is a companion business to iMed Distributors, a company also owned by Blackburn that has quickly grown into South Africa’s premium rapid diagnostic drug-testing supplier since it was founded in 2014. Blackburn started iMed Distributors because he realized existing drug tests weren’t accurately screening for exotic narcotics being used in South Africa but not commonly found in other parts of the world. Due to testing flaws, workers were being falsely accused of using drugs with devastating consequences. Once Blackburn determined that enterprises in South Africa needed a more efficient and technologically advanced laboratory solution than the limited options that were available, iMed Laboratories was a natural progression. It is South Africa’s first privately owned forensic toxicology laboratory. Testing results drive business decisions, and these results were not being supplied in a timely and efficient manner. iMed Laboratories closes that gap.
Dr. Elize de Bruyn
Dr. Elize de Bruyn joined iMed Laboratories when it was still an idea-in-progress, and she has been instrumental in helping to set up the facility. She was selected for this crucial role because she has an impressive track record and a well-respected background in academics, science and business. Dr. de Bruyn has a PhD in microbiology from the University of Pretoria plus nearly two decades of research experience working for various entities with a particular focus on diagnostic test method development, validation and verification. She is a recipient of several awards recognizing her commitment to high standards and protocols in the application of science to support best business practices. Most notably, she won the prestigious Best Quality Service Award for small- and medium-sized businesses from South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry. Dr. de Bruyn is dedicated to following stringent quality control measures, a vital component in the quest to produce valid and accurate drug testing results. As our Scientific Director, Dr. de Bruyn is responsible for coordinating and directing laboratory activities while ensuring stringent compliance with all applicable laws and standards. She was drawn to the field of drug testing because of her desire to be part of a mission to motivate change and save lives in the face of South Africa’s rampant drug addiction epidemic.
From the moment she first set foot in a small, privately owned laboratory working part-time as a university student, Steyn was enamored with the job. It dovetailed perfectly with her skill set and scientific aptitude. She worked nights processing samples, making slides for technologists, streaking out plates, and phoning out results. The job allowed her to learn the ins and outs of laboratory work, and Steyn knew right from the start that she had found the career she was meant for. With 20 years in the field, she has honed her skills working in several labs for a variety of companies.
The role of laboratory manager is multi-faceted. She ensures that test methods and standard operating procedures are reviewed and updated. Responsibilities also include management of laboratory stock levels and monitoring equipment performance. Steyn assures the lab’s work conditions are adequate and in compliance with health and safety requirements, and she is also in charge of samples which includes receiving, handling, storage, and analysis.
Steyn received her national diploma in biomedical technology from the Tshwane University of Technology in 2001. Her studies were focused on microbiology, clinical biochemistry, cellular pathology, and haematology. In 2003, she passed her Health Professions Council of South Africa board exam in clinical pathology.
Andrew Grant-Smith has been involved with iMed since the beginning — both the beginning of the company, and the start of his career. At the tender age of just 20 years old, he hit the road to help build the business from scratch under the leadership and guidance of iMed founder and entrepreneur Jonathan Blackburn. As the National Sales Director, Grant-Smith spent five years crisscrossing South Africa driving the sales of iMED’s distinguished set of rapid diagnostics. The tests cater to the exotic range of recreational drugs found locally, as well as more common drugs. With the recent opening of iMed Laboratories, a companion company to iMed Distributors, Grant-Smith has taken on the role of Marketing Director and part-owner. He is responsible for customer relations and ensuring complete client satisfaction with the company’s products and services.
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