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Biomarker Collection Protocols

Dried Blood Spots

Required Materials

Whatman 903 Protein Saver cards

There are 2 versions: one with 5 circles and one with 4 circles (the pull-apart card). Either can be used for research purposes.

Dessicant packs

Typically, one dessicant pack is placed in with one DBS card in an envelope for storage.
Whatman dessicants: Item #10548234

Both of the above are available from the following vendors, as well as others:


We recommend using a lancet with a blade, rather than a needle, and maximum depth in order to provide maximum flow for DBS collection.
BD Microtainer Contact-Activated Lancets (Blue); Item # 366594

These lancets are available from multiple vendors.

Additional supplies with no specified manufacturer or vendor:

  • Small plastic bags that seal tightly to hold individual DBS cards (typically “sandwich” size)
  • Large plastic bags to hold sets of individually packaged DBS cards (typically “gallon” size)
  • Gauze squares (typically 2 x 2 inches)
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Bandages
  • Sterile drapes (typically 18 x 26 inches)
  • Gloves (to protect data collector)

Hair Collection

Cortisol and stress steroids have been successfully measured in hair samples. However, understanding the relationship between these types of assays and those traditionally done in blood and saliva is still underway.


  1. Gather the supplies listed below:
    • Aluminum foil, cut into pieces about
    • Scissors
    • Paper clip
    • Sectional hair clips (get size)
    • Comb
    • Cotton string, cut into 12-inch lengths
  2. Prepare the area you will be using:
  3. At the back of the head, collect a top layer of hair and secure it out of the way with the hair clips.
  4. Approximately 2 cm below the cranial bone, use the comb to separate 2-3 strands of hair. Overall diameter of strands should be about half of a pencil.
  5. Thread the hair strands through the loop of the string. Tighten the loop.
  6. Cut the hair close to the scalp, between the tightened string and the scalp. This allows the string to remain around the sample of hair once it is cut.
  7. Place the strands of hair on the foil in the center, leaving the string on the sample. Using a permanent marker, mark on the foil which end of the sample was the end cut (and closest to the scalp). If the hair sample is too long for the foil, the strands can be trimmed at the end that was farthest from the scalp.
    • Fold about 1 inch of the top of the foil over the scalp end of the strand. Then, as if the foil was divided in thirds vertically, fold the left side over the hair sample. Then, fold the right side over to meet the left fold. Finally, fold about 1 inch of the bottom of the foil up. BE SURE TO NOT FOLD THE HAIR SAMPLE.
  8. Place the paper clip over the foil at the scalp end of the sample.
  9. Place the participant label on the foil. Place the foil label into a Ziploc bag.
  10. Store the sample in a dark, dry location until shipping.

Required Materials

Supplies needed for hair collection are commonly manufactured, so no vendor is specified:

  • Aluminum foil, cut into sheets as specified by the lab
  • Cotton string, thick enough to hold when tied around a section of hair (It is important to be sure the string is not too slick or
  • slippery, as it will not hold the hair securely)
  • Scissors
  • Combs

Using Salivettes to Collect Saliva

Required Materials


SARSTEDT salivettes are designed to allow easy use by participants and then processing by the lab. There is a general version and then some specialized versions that may be useful for specific assays.

These are available from multiple vendors as well as the manufacturer:

Additional supplies with no specified manufacturer or vendor:

  • Plastic bags that seal tightly to hold sets of salivettes (size depends on the number of salivettes to be collected)
  • Labels to identify specimens

Creating Dried Blood Spots from Venous Samples

Processing CPT tubes for RNA Extraction