Study Design

Biological specimens or measurements collected by population researchers are generally associated with characteristics or behaviors of interest. Biomarkers can be used to measure health status and behaviors, or to validate a particular health condition reported by a study respondent. 



Addressing and Assessing

After determining the research hypothesis or policy question the researcher first must decide how a biomarker will assist in addressing the hypothesis. Examples include assessing:

  • how prevalent a specific disease or asymptomatic condition is in a population of interest
  • whether certain hormones influence reproductive or aging outcomes
  • what the prevalence of certain micronutrient deficiencies is in a population-based sample
  • what social behaviors are associated with infection risk and transmission
  • whether the reported use of tobacco is consistent with urinary cotinine measures
  • what patterns of spread of infectious disease occur in a population
  • whether a population has been or is exposed to certain environmental hazards (e.g., lead or pesticides)


Chromosome pairs
Courtesy: U.S. National Library of Medicine

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