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.
Senior Biomedical Technologist
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.
Thato Kujane started her career at iMed in the laboratory receiving samples and entering the data into the system. More recently, she has been working with the accounts manager to assist with invoices, account statements, and client communications. She also helps with inventory tracking. Kujane is precise and detail-oriented, and always meets deadlines. She enjoys finding creative solutions to challenging problems and has proven she can adapt quickly to the chaotic environment that Covid presented. She remains strong and stoic under pressure and has a steadfast sense of responsibility and commitment to getting the job done. Prior to coming on board with iMed, Kujane worked as a data capturer and finance intern. She has a certificate in business from the University of South Africa, where she studied subjects such as how to start and fund a business venture. She is currently working on a paralegal diploma and plans to earn a law degree. She dreams of one day practicing corporate law.
Junior Laboratory Technician
Michaella Rocha specialises in genetics and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing that is used to detect viruses. She works in iMed's molecular laboratory where she is trained to extract virus DNA from samples. Her primary focus is on Covid diagnostics. Rocha is an enthusiastic team player and an avid researcher. She is skilled at gathering and organising large amounts of information. Hard working and passionate about expanding her knowledge of science, Rocha completed her Bachelor of Science degree in human genetics at the University of Pretoria, where she double majored in genetics and physiology. Rocha has earned certificates in several subjects. Most recently, she obtained a certificate in essential DNA sequencing from DNA Biotec. This enhanced her knowledge of extracting, sequencing, and analysing DNA on various platforms. She also holds certificates in neuroscience coaching, neuroscience visual skills testing and training, higher exercise and nutrition science, medical terminology, teaching English as a foreign language, and Portuguese language and culture.
Nicole Coetzer oversees the operations that keep iMed running smoothly and efficiently. This is no small feat – Covid is a chaotic and unpredictable force that presents challenges for all businesses offering products and services to slow the spread of the virus. Coetzer consistently remains cool, collected and unflappable in fast-paced, hectic environments. Coetzer's role at iMed includes developing and optimising operational management systems, processes, and best practices across a range of departments. She projects, tracks, and reconciles inventory levels, and makes certain that warehouse efficiency is being maximized. She plans driver routes and assesses the vehicle fleet for roadworthiness. She ensures the team is strictly adhering to all compliance requirements and always maintaining rigorous standards of health and safety, hygiene, and security. She is a liaison with clients, suppliers, and transport companies. Coetzer is currently working on her Bachelor of Commerce in business management degree from Region Business School. She also has a Bachelor of Education (senior FET) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Forensic Toxicology Lab Technologist
Sympathy Moyo's duties at iMed include preparing, processing, and analysing toxicology specimens. She also assists with method validations and verifications. This dedicated chemical analyst plays a role in optimising current methods at our laboratory, or even developing new ones. She is well-versed in the troubleshooting of sophisticated testing equipment and instruments. Moyo is enthusiastic about bringing innovation to the pharmacochemical sciences field, a discipline that focuses on the discovery and development of chemical compounds used to make medicines. She also aims to make her mark as a cohort scientist. A cohort study involves observing a group of people over time without intervening in order to make observations that can lead to breakthroughs in identifying potential risk factors for disease. Moyo has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Pretoria. Prior to joining iMed, she spent three years working at the university's forensic toxicology laboratory as a forensic analyst.
Medical Laboratory Technologist
Abel Mnkanandla works mainly in iMed's Covid lab, where he receives and prepares samples for diagnostic testing. He ensures specimens are properly stored using cryopreservation. He also helps with managing our equipment, including calibrating the machines and stocking inventory. Mnkanandla has a special interest in the role biological sciences can play in public health matters. He was drawn to this field of scientific study because he is fascinated by the unpredictability of human science. This drive to expand his knowledge is rooted in a desire to help humanity. Mnkanandla is currently working towards his master's degree in public health at the University of Venda. He has already earned his post-graduate diploma in public health from the University of Pretoria.
Laboratory & Operations Manager
Cape Town branch
Reinie Swart is the laboratory and operations manager for iMed's Cape Town branch. He is an energetic and enthusiastic part of the team, ensuring that each aspect of iMed's secondary location is a seamless extension of our headquarters in Pretoria. Swart handles the daily scheduling of the Cape Town team, which depends on the number of samples received day-to-day. He oversees driver logistics, payroll, quality control, and client communications. Swart makes certain that large volumes of samples are processed properly and promptly, and that deadlines for clients receiving their test results are met consistently. He is undeterred by the challenge of extremely tight turnaround times in the face of fluctuating volumes and demand. He is inspired by the power that a small group of people can have by working together to make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. Swart has a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative brand communication from the Vega School of Brand Leadership where he specialised in copywriting.
PCR/Molecular Laboratory Manager
Rialda Venter runs the laboratory at iMed's Pretoria headquarters in conjunction with our scientific director, Elize de Bruyn. Venter also steps in to help at the Cape Town branch when required. She is detail-oriented and organized. She assists with ensuring that our facilities adhere stringently to the highest standards of quality control. In addition to her managerial duties, Venter also processes samples and analyses the results. An inquisitive medical scientist who enjoys being at the forefront of new technology, Venter held positions at several laboratories before joining iMed. She has earned two degrees from the University of the Free State: a Bachelor of Science in microbiology, biochemistry, and physiology, and a Bachelor of Medical Science with honors in medical microbiology.
Senior Laboratory Administrator
Daisy Makhubelae receives samples from iMed's clients and handles the inspections, including counting the samples, logging them into the register, and verifying that all important details correspond. Makhubelae also trains other iMed staff members. She enjoys that role immensely. Makhubelae is patient and kind, and these personality traits give her the foundation to excel at teaching others and helping them succeed. Makhubelae's career has always been focused on healthcare. Before joining iMed's team, she managed a medical practice. Before that, she worked as a medical receptionist. She is passionate about being in a field that helps people stay healthy. She has worked tirelessly on the frontlines in the battle against Covid. She never complains about the long hours, including overnight shifts at times when testing numbers are surging because she knows the stakes are high.
Clarence Oelofse is on iMed's distribution team. He handles sales of iMed's products to entities such as healthcare facilities, pharmacies, a variety of retailers, and occupational health nurses at companies seeking to test employees. He works with designers and iMed's marketing team to help create packaging that meets customer specifications to the letter. Oelofse is a people person who doesn't hesitate to go above and beyond to serve every iMed customer he encounters with respect, professionalism, and competence. He started his career working in health and safety in the mining industry, where he assisted with compliance and was tasked with ensuring that work environments were safe.