Supporting our Troops - Transporting the AFMES DNA Repository to Dover Air Force Base

Posted by Bruce McAfee on Nov 9, 2016 10:00:00 AM

In observance of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday on November 11, we'd like to share a case study on how the Fisher BioServices team actively supports our troops and share our appreciation for all that they do. Together with our parent company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, we work with veterans to make the world a healthier place.

Fisher BioServices has had the privilege of being entrusted with some of the most important collections of biospecimens in the world. One of these is the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) DNA Repository for identifying the remains of those who served in and with the US military. 

The AFMES Repository needed to be transferred from multiple sites in Rockville and Gaithersburg, Maryland, to a new, custom-equipped facility at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The plan for the new repository facility originated in the 2005 Base Re-Alignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommendations. While the new building was still under construction, the AFMES turned to Fisher BioServices to transfer the 6.5 million blood cards and other evidentiary materials from their locations in Maryland to Dover, Delaware.

Fisher BioServices has extensive experience in transporting biospecimens, and can move entire repositories, including the freezers and samples, at temperatures from ambient through cryogenic. The AFMES collection has been relocated several times in the past three decades, and each time, the military has called on Fisher BioServices to perform the move.


The DNA samples consist of a dried blood spot, along with the owner’s identifying information, on a special 5x7 card in a paper-poly-foil pouch. The individual cards are relatively simple, however, each card is irreplaceable, and moving six and a half million presented a challenge.

Another challenge was that the AFMES Repository is a 24-hours per day, seven days per week operation—there is no down time. Each card had to remain retrievable at all times during the process of de-shelving, packing, transporting, unloading, and re-shelving, in case one was needed. They also had to be protected from heat, as the move was scheduled for August.

To read more about Fisher BioServices solutions to these challenges, as well as the results, download your free copy of our Case Study Supporting our Troops - Transporting the AFMES DNA Repository to Dover Air Force Base.


Download Case Study