A BIOMEDICAL scientist who began his career by building a laboratory in his garage has developed a rapid response coronavirus testing kit.

Jonathan O’Halloran is the founder and managing director of biotechnology company QuantuMDx.

The company is already producing millions of disposable Covid-19 testing kits which are being sold globally, but must be sent to laboratories to study the results.

But Jonathan has also spent years developing a portable device which can diagnose a range of diseases without the need for sending off swabs to a lab.

The Argus: Jonathan, right, with Bill GatesJonathan, right, with Bill Gates

The device, called Q-POC, can now test for coronavirus in about 25 minutes by a patient’s side and is being launched in September.

The 44-year-old, who splits his time between Uckfield and Newcastle, said: “I started the company in my garage in Uckfield in 2008.

“When I left university I got a summer job in a hospital and I absolutely loved it.

“I wanted to combine my interest in pathology with my love of genetics, so I built a box which can take any sample and read DNA.

“When coronavirus hit my first reaction was, this is crazy.

“Then there was a surreal moment in March when I found myself on the phone to Matt Hancock and Number 10, talking about how important our device will be in the track and trace programme.

“The box is perfect for testing Covid-19.”

QuantuMDx has previously received funding from the Bill Gates Foundation to develop other tests, after the man himself contacted Jonathan, who described talking to the Microsoft founder as “a real life moment”.

Jonathan studied genetics, biotechnology and genomics at the University of Sussex before going to Harvard University in the USA, where he was inspired to build what would become the Q-POC device.

But Jonathon said it was during his time at Lewes Old Grammar School that he first developed a passion for science.

The Argus: Jonathan, seventh from right, at Lewes Old Grammar School in the 1990sJonathan, seventh from right, at Lewes Old Grammar School in the 1990s

He will visit the school in the autumn to give a talk to students.

Jonathon said: “It was my biology teacher Dr Bishop’s classes which really inspired me.

“Everything just clicked for me and I absolutely loved those lessons.

“Genetics was amazing and I actually found it quite easy to grasp, which was unusual for me.

“I am colour blind, tone deaf and dyslexic, so the arts were never going to be my thing, but genetics explained my issues and I found it fascinating.

“We’re launching the QPOC system in the autumn, so it will be nice to go back to the start of my journey with science.”