Population Health Research Institute
Central Support

Diagnostic Specimen Unit
Providing consistency in the management of specimens across all PHRI studies

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The Diagnostic Specimens Unit (DSU) has a core of 4 full-time staff, augmented as required for peak periods.  PHRI specimen shipment instructions to study sites, and packaging are compliant with current International Air Traffic Association (IATA) regulations.

The DSU was formed at the conclusion of the INTERHEART study; to replicate the innovative and successful specimen management systems developed for INTERHEART, across all PHRI studies.



The DSU is responsible for:

Development of the study Central Laboratory Manual detailing specimen collection, processing, storage, and shipment to National Sites and the Central Laboratory.

Design, programming and printing of specimen storage labels using 2-dimensional (2D) barcode symbology

Assembly and shipping of diagnostic specimen collection kits; 4000 to 10,000 monthly

Tracking and monitoring of specimen shipments from sites in 50+ countries to National Sites and the Central Laboratory, resolving international regulations; 2600+ shipments received at Central Laboratory annually.

International management of a fleet of 75 dry shippers; each capable of transporting 600 2 mL vials of specimen in nitrogen vapour at -150oC or colder. The PHRI units will keep specimens frozen during shipment from 10 to 28 days.  

Documents and Forms  


 1.) Dry Shipper Manual




Commercial Invoice Templates



    Exempt Human Specimen



Notice of Shipment

Please complete the form below to notify the DSU of an incoming specimen shipment.  Please note this form will be sent through your email address.

To ensure specimens are not delayed during shipment, do not ship between December 15, and December 31 each year.

If you have urgent need to ship during this period, contact 1-905-527-4322 x 44408 or email specimens@phri.ca to make special arrangements.

Notice of Shipment  

STUDY Name(s):


 Site #:


 Date of Shipment:

 Contact Name:

 Contact E-Mail:

 Contact Phone:




 Tracking #:
(Air Waybill #)

Shipment Contains  

 # of Ambient Boxes:

# of Dry Ice Boxes:

 # of Dry Shippers:

Do you have any special concerns or information regarding the samples in this shipment? Please specify:


* If you are having troubles with the form, please manually send your notice of shipment to specimens@phri.ca


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Population Health Research Institute • Hamilton, Ontario • information@phri.ca