Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Flash Section


Regina Santella, Ph.D., Director
Irina Gurvich, M.S., Manager

The Biomarkers Shared Resource (Biomarkers SR) is a joint resource of the Cancer Center and Columbia’s NIEHS Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan. It provides a centralized, efficient and cost-effective resource for receiving, handling and storing human samples that are collected as part of research studies in molecular epidemiology and other types of cancer-related research. Services provided include:

  • Consultation on sample processing
  • Preparation of kits for bio-specimen collection
  • Processing and storage of blood components, including cells and plasma
  • Storage of other body fluids, including urine, sputum, and oral cells
  • Isolation of DNA/RNA with quality controls
  • Maintenance of a sample inventory
  • Analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and DNA methylation by Pyrosequencing

Consultation is provided on all aspects of sample collection and processing for specific studies including the types of tubes needed for sample collection, shipment methods, separation of specific fractions, number of aliquots, etc. The samples processed and/or stored include blood, urine, oral cells, sputum and microscope slides of smeared cells. Coded samples are received by the facility and processed into appropriate fractions (e.g., plasma, mononuclear cells, granulocytes, total white blood cells and red blood cells) and frozen in multiple aliquots in more that one freezer whenever possible. A web-based database of the sample inventory is maintained and samples retrieved as specified in the governing protocol. A telephone alarm system is used to ensure sample safety. Additional services include DNA isolation from buccal and white blood cells and plasma and serum, RNA isolating including microRNAs, whole genome amplification of limited DNA samples, and genotyping for single nucleotide polymorphisms in candidate genes, and DNA methylation assays. Samples from over 27,000 subjects participating in 83 different studies, 64 cancer-related, are currently stored.