The Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit (TRU) has been part of the King's Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine since September 2006 and has a team of over 40 staff. The unit was initially set up at St Thomas' Hospital in 1992 via grants form the Wellcome Trust and Arthritis and Research Campaign. Its initial focus was on the genetic influences on osteoporosis, hip arthritis, asthma and allergy, on twins. This study enabled a range of unique approaches to the understanding of genetic and environmental influences on disease and their interaction. The unit has grown steadily and has now the most detailed phenotypic database in Europe, with records of 10,000 adult MZ and DZ twins from across the UK, as well as extensive data on a range of disease markers. This is the only UK adult wide twin database and it incorporates all active participants form the only previous adult twin registers in the UK - the Aberdeen Twin Registry and the Institute of Psychiatry database.
Research is funded by a number of charitable bodies such as the Wellcome Trust, ARC, BHF NIH, BBSRC and Guide Dogs for the Blind, as well as some commercial funding. The TRU has been actively involved in FP5-, FP6- and FP7-funded EU Projects, both as co-ordinator and participating partner. TRU research today focuses on the genetics of complex diseases, in particular age-related diseases, with a current main focus on the genetics of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, the musculoskeletal system, and ageing. The unit also carries out research into eyesight and miscellaneous areas such as skin disease, immunology, gastroenterology and behaviour. Over 4,000 phenotypes on our twin dataset are available to collaborators (most phenotypes having been collected on at least 1,000 individuals). In addition novel phenotypes can be incorporated into our research studies, and our questionnaires (sent out annually to 10,000 twins) regularly include questions from collaborators. As part of our Wellcome Trust funded research, lymphocyte cell lines on 370 twins are available for use by approved researchers. We actively encourage collaborations with other national and international researchers interested in using the twin dataset for ethics committee-approved studies.
Associated research programmes
Associated staff research interests
I am a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow with funding to study the genetic epidemiology of degenerative disc disease (DDD). This ties in well with my clinical interests of DDD and osteoporosis of the spine (Consultant Rheumatologist St Thomas' Hospital). I am using genome wide scans to identify novel genetic loci in DDD, combining forces with several large groups round the world to increase sample size. I am collecting DNA from patients in the clinic so that I can replicate the findings from the worldwide population samples in the sample of clinical cases.
020 7188 6765
020 7188 6718
I use the UK twins registry (TWINSUK) of 10,000 twins to pursue gene discovery in the common complex traits and diseases via genetic epidemiology. I study a wide variety of diseases from back pain to anxiety, snoring to sexuality. Our group focus on age related diseases such as CVD, metabolic traits, locomotor problems such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, cognitive function and eye disorders.We have genomewide scans and expression data on large numbers of the twins.
020 7188 6765
CONTACTS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Professor Tim Spector