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Biobehavioral (Biomolecular) Lab

The Biomolecular Lab provides comprehensive, reliable Dried-Blood Spot (DBS) analysis that gives investigators biomarker data (measuring chronic stress, total cholesterol, immune markers and other health indicators) to inform and advance their work.

A Bio-Safety Lab Level 2 (BSL2) certified research laboratory within the University of Rochester School of Nursing provides support for researchers conducting bio-behavioral research by providing biospecimen analyses for a variety of analytes.

Biomarkers assist researchers in understanding the interaction between environmental, socio-economic, demographic, and cultural factors with biology and how they influence health outcomes.

The impact of biomarkers is considerable in helping multidisciplinary researchers explore relationships of disease and risk factors, disease and treatment interventions, prevention programs, and environmental factors, and their impact on health.

What We Offer

Under the direction of Dr. Susan Groth, lab director, and Christopher Lane, lab manager, we provide consulting and guidance to investigators seeking to include biomarkers in their research studies from concept development to implementation, evaluation, and interpretation of laboratory values.

Our lab has the equipment necessary to establish and perform analyses on biomarkers: storage freezers, microplate reader, automatic plate washer, and standard biochemistry equipment.

As a certified BSL2 facility, the lab can provide analyses of dried blood spots (DBS) and human blood derivatives such as serum or plasma.

We also provide you:

  • Expert consultation on the best methods of DBS sample collection and storage (based on populations and research focus), study goals, necessary applications, and cost
  • Protocols for analytes HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, interleukin-6, interleukin -1 beta, C-reactive protein
  • Creation of new assays as requested
  • Reliable, comprehensive data analysis of collected samples
  • Assistance and support with data interpretation
  • A finalized dataset of biomarkers upon completion
  • Long-term, secure, freezer storage of samples for future analysis

Our Approach

We have expertise in the use of various techniques that enhance inclusion of biological markers in research studies. These techniques include:

Dried blood spot sampling has been in use since the 1960s. Analysis of DBS samples is accomplished by adopting protocols used for plasma/serum samples to measure analytes extracted from DBS. Extraction is accomplished by using a standard hole punch to obtain measured discs of paper spotted with dried whole blood. Analytes are reconstituted in customized elution buffers into liquid hemolyzed whole blood, which is then used for assay.

dried-blood spot analysis

Established techniques have been deemed satisfactory and are available for the most important and relevant biomarkers of interest to bio-behavioral and population-level health researchers (lipids, glycated hemoglobin A1c, cortisol, C-reactive protein, IL-6).

This technique is ideal to collect blood samples in community-based and home-based settings.

Advantages include: 

  • ease of collection by non-clinical personnel in any setting
  • sample collection requires a one-time finger prick in contrast to numerous venous blood draws
  • samples are easy to transport, and can be shipped at ambient temperatures through regular mail service
  • can be done on a variable level i.e. from a few to hundreds of samples
  • establishment of assays for unconventional and emerging biomarkers which can be measured in DBS are ongoing, and can be developed based on researcher need

The Biomarker Lab is equipped with a Retsch MM200 which pulverizes hair samples for analysis of cortisol, a stress biomarker.

Hair cortisol is reflective of chronic stress and particularly useful in studies where the goal is to characterize chronic or prolonged stress.

Scalp hair cortisol is a retrospective measure of cumulative HPA activity over a 3-4 month period and offers an innovative, alternative approach to measuring HPA axis activity with minimal burden to participants.

Commonly used biomarkers such as immune markers, total cholesterol, HbA1c, triglycerides, can be analyzed in blood, plasma, urine, and/or saliva by ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).

Quotation Mark

The experienced lab technicians worked closely with us to assure high quality data and efficient work completion. From storage and assay planning to data analysis, the staff has always been available to support our projects and any troubleshooting without pause.

Kathi Heffner, PhD Headshot

Kathi Heffner, PhD

Associate Professor of Nursing, Medicine, and Psychiatry at the University of Rochester
Associate Chief of Research, Division of Geriatrics and Aging at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Contact Us

The Biomolecular Laboratory is located on the fourth floor of the University of Rochester School of Nursing’s Helen Wood Hall.

To request lab services for your study, cost estimates, or to learn more about the Biomarker Lab, please contact:

Susan W. Groth
Director, Biomolecular Laboratory

University of Rochester School of Nursing
601 Elmwood Avenue, BOX SON
Rochester, NY 14642
(585) 275-8895

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