Sample collection details

The collection process, samples collected and forms to be completed to successfully process plasma, serum and DNA.

Sample packs

You can order new packs by emailing the central packing team

Sample collection ideally involves 2 x EDTA tubes and 1 x serum tube (BD Vacutainer blood tubes as supplied in the standard sample packs). These will be used to biobank plasma, serum and DNA.

 Forms to be completed:

  • Consent form
  • Personal details (PID), such as a data collection sheet
  • Sample Linkages (SLF)
  • Clinical report form (CRF), if it is a common or rare disease project
  • Health and Lifestyle questionnaire

Please check the specific inclusion/exclusion criteria before recruiting to a common or rare disease project.

Multi-channel pipettor and multi-well tray

New Packs can be ordered by emailing the central packing team.

One collection pack is to be used per participant and any spare barcodes destroyed, the barcodes are unique to that pack and recruitment event.

The Sample Linkage Form (SLF) accompanies the barcoded samples to our laboratory facility, the National Biosample Centre (NBC).

The SLF requires codes for the project and site codes for the hospital where recruitment takes place.

Project codes        Site codes

Reports will be provided on samples holdings by NIHR BioResource and recruiters can view cumulative participant recruitment on the Grafana consent events table (registered recruiters only).

Mental Health participants return completed saliva kits directly to the NBC.

Standard sample pack blood collection tubes - a guide for age groups:

Adults (age 16 and over)

2 x 4ml EDTA and 1 x 6ml Serum

Children aged 2 to 16 years old

1 x 2ml EDTA and 1 x 2ml Serum

Children aged 6 months to 2 years old

1 x 2ml EDTA

Babies up to 6 months

1 x 1ml EDTA

If you have any concerns about suggested volumes, please contact us.


If specific additional sample collection is necessary for adequate analysis of disease (e.g. stool sample, skin biopsy) this must be confirmed with BioResource before recruitment as it is likely that an ethical amendment will be required and additional costs and charges might be incurred.

In exceptional circumstances where blood sampling is not feasible, for example the patient is difficult to bleed, a saliva sample can be taken for DNA extraction. A small quantity of saliva kit sample packs are available. Note that a saliva sample does not allow the storage of plasma or serum for future analyses; DNA extracted from saliva is not of such high quality and purity as that obtained from blood; saliva samples cannot be used in all techniques. 

Clinical consideration and common practice for minors applies. Judgement should be used if there is any concern about the suitability of volume collection; in these cases, a smaller sample will be accepted.

Under 12 years of age, the priority is to collect 1 x EDTA, this will be used for DNA extractions.

Packs will travel to the National Biosample Centre using the Royal Mail first class service. In general, this means they arrive the next day.
We suggest you use a Royal Mail post box and ask that you check that there will be a collection on the same day you post the pack. Our experience suggests that posting through a hospital post room can add one day to transit time.
If blood samples have been in transit for more than three days then the sample will only be used for DNA extraction and not for serum or plasma banking. 
This does mean taking extra care when sending samples from clinics on Thursday or Friday afternoons to ensure the samples arrive at the National Biosample Centre on a working day that is within the three-day transit window.

Public holidays: We will notify sites and collaborators of any special arrangements around public holidays.
Note that we normally close recruitment to all projects for a few days before and after Christmas to ensure all samples arrive and are processed in the lab before the holiday period.

Frozen samples

If, from your past NIHR BioResource project, you have stocks of frozen samples that need to be transferred to the NBC, please get in touch with the samples team.

Email us