Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

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, please email Ellie Brindle.

What We Offer

CSDE assists with grant and project development, literature reviews, pilot work, specimen collection, assay development and validation, and research analysis and archival. CSDE also enables affiliates to easily undertake projects involving biomarker measurements while avoiding prohibitive time, cost, and expertise roadblocks. Detailed listings of our biodemography services are below.

  • Direction in integrating biomarkers into research
  • Assistance with design and implementation of pilot work and funded projects
  • Guidance for identifying and using previously collected biomarker data
  • Assistance with grant preparation, including budgets for biomarker collection and assay
  • Consultation to identify biomarkers that can answer research questions and to determine appropriate usage
  • Data-set identification, interpretation of lab methods documentation, and biological context for using existing biomarker data
  • Identify biomarker data sets available from previous studies (such as NHANES and AddHealth) that may be useful for new projects
  • Provide biological context through literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, and summaries of relevant physiological systems
  • Provide assistance in use of these data, including evaluating assay data quality, and other potential methodological concerns
  • Assistance with assays for urine, saliva, dried blood spot, serum, and plasma specimens
  • Equipment rental (see below)
  • Provision of lab staff and facilities for pilot work to develop and/or adapt assay protocols as well as assistance in carrying out full validation and quality-control studies
  • Adoption, development, validation, and publication of new biomarker assays
  • Building of new immunoassay formats and adaptation of them for practical and efficient large-scale use
  • Provision and maintenance of an IRB-approved repository and archive facility for storing and sharing biological specimens
  • Secure archive location for long-term cold storage of biological specimens
  • Guidance in identifying other laboratories suitable for projects not possible in the CSDE Biodemography Lab
  • Training in biomarker methods
  • Share specimen collection methods and assay protocols, and publish methods appropriate for population research

Here is a list of the in-house assays routinely employed in the Biodemography Lab. Many of these assays were developed in our lab specifically for population-level biomarker research. We are working continuously to expand this list of in-house assays to meet demand for new biomarker tools.


Equipment Listing

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. Training in proper use of the instruments is provided by CSDE staff, and the equipment may be checked out for use in the field. Some of the instruments require consumable supplies that students using the equipment would need to purchase. 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 Ellie Brindle—we would be glad to consider it in our next STF funding proposal.


BioRad in2it HbA1c analyzers (2)
Designed for quick measurement of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c, an indicator of diabetes risk) using blood collected from a finger prick. This instrument is portable, but best suited to use in an indoor field research setting with electricity, such as an office or community center.



Bayer A1cNow handheld HbA1c analyzers (2)
Hand-held device designed for quick measuremnet of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c, an indicator of diabetes risk) using 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.



Cholestech LDX multi-function analyzers (2)
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 (2)
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.



Omron Ultra BP monitor (2)
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 (4)
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.



HemoCue Hb 201 Hemoglobin analyzers (2)
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 (2)
Measures white blood cell (WBC) count, an indicator of immune function, quickly using a small drop of blood collected from a finger prick.



Tanita BF-522W body fat analyzer/scales (2)
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 (2)
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 (2)
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. Measurments taken with this device are often useful for assessing growth and development.



Graham Field Lange skinfold calipers (2)
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 (2)
Portable, lightweight instrument used for precise height measurement in any research setting.



Thermo Scientific Revco Elite PLUS -86C Upright Freezer
For ultra-low temperature specimen and reagent storage.


Projects

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.