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CSDE offers social and biological scientists a number of biodemographic services, ranging from research guidance to equipment rental.

To schedule a consultation or inquire about any biodemography services, see the CSDE Science Core Consultation Request Form.

Lab Service Request Form


CSDE assists with grant and project development, literature reviews, pilot work, specimen collection, assay development and validation, and research analysis. CSDE also enables affiliates to easily undertake projects involving biomarker measurements while avoiding prohibitive time, cost, and expertise roadblocks. Additionally, the Biodemography Lab houses equipment purchased with funding from the UW Student Technology Fee (STF) committee that is available for students to use in their research.

Detailed listings of our biodemography services and equipment offerings are below.

  • Integrating biomarkers into research
  • Study design and logistics for pilot work and funded projects
  • Identifying and interpreting existing biomarker methods or data
  • Grant preparation, including budgets for biomarker collection and assays
  • Biological and physiological context for biomarker data
  • Evaluating assay data quality and other potential methodological concerns
  • Laboratory facilities, equipment, and/or skilled staff time
  • Analysis of urine, saliva, dried blood spot, serum, and plasma specimens
  • Assay piloting, development, validation, and quality control
  • Hands-on training in biomarker collection and laboratory methods
  • Guidance in identifying other laboratories suitable for projects not possible in the CSDE Biodemography Lab

Our lab specializes in developing and optimizing assays for population-based research, including methods for large-scale collection, storage, and analysis of biological specimens for biodemographic research undertaken in field settings. The lab has developed and/or adapted assay methods to measure an extensive list of analytes in serum, plasma, dried blood spots, saliva, hair, and urine specimens and primarily uses conventional and multiplex immunoassay methods and PCR-based molecular methods. Biomarker assays routinely employed in our lab include:

  • Apolipoprotein B (ApoB)
  • C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
  • Cortisol
  • Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Immunoglobulins
  • Gonadotropins
  • Inflammatory Cytokine Multiplex
  • Microchimerism
  • Telomere Length

CSDE supports the use of equipment housed in the Biodemography Lab for student research purposes. Training in proper use of the instruments is provided by CSDE staff, and portable equipment may be checked out for use in the field. Some of the instruments require consumable supplies to be purchased by the user. A complete list of available equipment is listed below. If you need other equipment to measure biomarkers for your research, please email your wish list to Tiffany Pan—we would be glad to consider it in our next STF funding proposal.

Diazyme SMART Assay system

Point-of-care analyzers capable of measuring analytes relevant for diabetes risk and control (HbA1c), inflammation and immune function (procalcitonin and C-reactive protein), and a marker linked to deficiency in B vitamins (homocysteine).

Alere LDX multi-function analyzers

Uses blood collected from a finger prick to measure a complete lipid profile (HDL and LDL cholesterol, triglycerids, etc.), C-reactive protein, and glucose, all of which are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome risk, as well as ALT and AST, indicators of liver function, which may be affected by medications used to treat these illnesses. This instrument is portable, and best suited to use in an indoor field research setting with electricity, such as an office or community center.

CardioChek PA multi-function blood analyzers

Hand-held device designed to quickly test cholesterol (including HDL and LDL subtypes), lipids, and other markers of cardiovascular disease using a small amount of blood collected from a finger prick. This instrument is very portable, small and rugged enough to transport to a remote field site in a backpack, and operates on battery power.

HemoCue Hb 201 Hemoglobin analyzers

Used to measure hemoglobin (an indicator of anemia, associated with iron deficiency or illness) using blood collected from a finger prick. This model is very portable, can be used in areas without electricity, and is suitable for use in the clinic or field. Hemoglobin measurement can be important in studies of nutrition and both infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Hemocue white blood cell count analyzer

Measures white blood cell (WBC) count, an indicator of immune function, quickly using a small drop of blood collected from a finger prick.

LeadCare II Analyzer

Point-of-care analyzer used to measure lead in finger-prick blood samples.

Centrifuges for capillary blood processing

Portable centrifuges that can be used to separate capillary blood samples into components and a microplate centrifuge.

Pronto Pulse Oximeter and Hemoglobin analyzers

This instrument measures pulse and blood oxygen saturation and is the only device on the market that allows measurement of hemoglobin, an indicator of anemia, without blood.

Omron Ultra BP monitor

Portable sphygomamanometer that automatically measures blood pressure. It is supplied with multiple cuff sizes, allowing measurement of all sizes, from a child to a very large adult. This instrument can operate on battery power, and takes readings automatically, with warning features to alert less-experienced users to flaws in the readings that can be caused by excessive movement, etc.

Polar RS800CX recording heart rate monitors

These consist of a chest strap that transmits heart rate data to a watch-like wrist band. They can be worn by research subjects continuously, and then transmit the data to a computer via an infra-red USB interface. The manufacturer provides the software needed to use the transmitted data.

ActiGraph activity monitors

A body-worn device that measures and records physical movement associated with daily activity and sleep (includes heart rate monitor, accelerometer, inclinometer, light sensor, etc.). Is intended for use in applications where quantifiable measurement and storage of physical movement is desired.

Body fat analyzer/scales

Measures weight, and also measures body composition using a method known as bioelectrical impedance, in which a small electric current is passed from the instrument, through the body and back to the instrument. Impedence of the electrical current’s trip through the body varies by body composition, and so can be used to calculate the percent body fat. The current is harmless, and the research subject can’t feel it. The instrument looks like a bathroom scale. This particular model of body fat analyzer/scale is much smaller and lighter than most (about 4.5 pounds), and operates on battery power.

Large anthropometers

Used to precisely measure dimensions of body size including long bone length, width of the shoulders, chest depth, etc. This is part of the standard anthropometrics tool kit. Measurements taken with this device are often useful for assessing growth and development.

Small anthropometers

Used to precisely measure dimensions of body size including muscle development, joints, smaller bone lengths, etc. This is part of the standard anthropometrics tool kit. Measurements taken with this device are often useful for assessing growth and development.

Circumference tape measures

60 inches (5 feet; 152 cm) in length. Used to measure body circumferences such as hip, waist, and limbs. This is part of the standard anthropometrics tool kit. Measurements taken with this device are often used to estimate adiposity.

Graham Field Lange skinfold calipers

Precision instruments used to measure skinfold thickness at multiple points on the body. Skinfold thickness is a standard component of anthropometric measurements. It can be used to calculate overall body composition as well as body fat distribution.

Seca portable stadiometers

Portable, lightweight instrument used for precise height measurement in any research setting.

Seca digital baby scales

Scale for weighing children too young to stand on a scale.

Seca infantometer

Infantometer is used to measure recumbent length in children too young to stand for height measurement.

Thermo Scientific Revco Elite PLUS -86C Upright Freezer

For ultra-low temperature specimen and reagent storage.


CSDE currently supports a wide variety of biodemography work. Click below for more information on our affiliates’ active research.

The aim of this project is to develop an innovative, yet simple, multiplex immunoassay method for simultaneous measurement of a number of markers of micronutrients and infectious diseases relevant to maternal and child health. This method is intended to reduce the labor and costs associated with population health surveillance, and to expand the number of tests that can be done using field-friendly sample collection methods. The project adds markers of iodine deficiency, malaria and other infectious diseases, and immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases to a recently-developed method for simultaneously measuring a panel of five markers used to assess iron and vitamin A status. You can read more about the project here.

Through a collaboration with PATH, the Biodemography Core provides laboratory and biomarker data collection support to the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). The DHS has recently begun an ambitious expansion to add an ever-increasing number of biomarker measurements to the already rich standard DHS household surveys. The Biodemography Core provides consulting, protocol development and technology transfer assistance in support of DHS biomarker data collection efforts. You can find out more about the DHS program here.

Cortisol has been used as marker of psychological stress, but its quick changes in response to acute stress and large diurnal variation pose difficulties for using it as a marker of long-term stress exposure. Cortisol is integrated into the hair as it grows, and thus hair specimens have increasingly been considered for their potential use in providing a longer-term measure of cortisol levels. The Biodemography Core has recently adapted an in-house cortisol assay long used for other specimen types for use with hair extracts. The new method is being used in support of a project led by Dr. Susan Graham (UW Departments of Medicine and Global Health) that looks at the experience of sexual violence among women in Mombasa, Kenya. Dr. Graham’s project contributed equipment to the laboratory that made it possible to adopt this new cortisol measurement method.

The Biodemography team provided sample collection support and laboratory services for a pilot study aimed at understanding how the risk of obesity changes in migrants moving from the Philippines to the US. This pilot project provided preliminary information for a proposal submitted to NIH (PI: G. Gee, UCLA; UW subcontract PI: A de Castro) that would follow groups of migrants and non-migrants to understand the impacts of behavioral changes and social ties on obesity risk following migration.