Rothberg first announced his intention to develop “a low cost, easy to manufacture home test kit of coronavirus” when he tweeted from on board his dedicated science lab on board Gene Machine in March 2020. The resulting test can tell if someone has Covid-19 within an hour.
After first describing the prospect of developing such as test as a “thought experiment”, Rothberg ramped up his efforts to make it a reality, tasking a group of scientists at Homodeus to develop the test. Homodeus is part of his company 4Catalyzer, which creates small medical devices, such as the Butterfly iQ, a handheld ultrasound tool that utilises smartphone technology.
During the pandemic, Rothberg refitted the 55m support vessel Blue Ocean into a dedicated scientific support yacht named Gene Chaser.
The yacht was refitted to incorporate Dr Rothberg’s specific customisations, which included converting the interior into a working research laboratory for scientific projects. The main saloon meanwhile was revamped into a working wet and dry laboratory.
Speaking about the project, Dr Rothberg said he needed a dedicated support vessel to accommodate his scientific research as he focused on creating a “rapid diagnostic [test] for Covid”.