Optical biosensing is being actively investigated for minimally-invasive monitoring of key biomarkers both in vitro and in vivo. However, typical benchtop instruments are not portable and are not well suited to high-throughput, real-time analysis. This paper presents a versatile multichannel instrument for measurement of emission intensity and lifetime values arising from luminescent biosensor materials. A detailed design description of the opto-electronic hardware as well as the control software is provided, elaborating a flexible, user-configurable system that may be customized or duplicated for a wide range of applications. This article presents experimental measurements that prove the in vitro and in vivo functionality of the system. Such tools may be adopted for many research and development purposes, including evaluation of new biosensor materials, and may also serve as prototypes for future miniaturized handheld or wearable devices.