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About us

About us

The Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology (DTR) is a grant funded department conducting genetic research in to complex diseases in particular age-related diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and eye diseases. The DTR also conducts clinical trials and research into miscellaneous areas such dermatology, immunology, gastroenterology and behaviour and lifestyle; resulting in publications in leading scientific journals. The DTR has a strong record in data sharing with the wider scientific community leading to 700 collaborative projects since 2010 and over 500 publications. The department has the most detailed and well studied  twin registry in Europe (over 12,000 adult  twins) and the most comprehensive data set of phenotype and genomic data and over 400,000 biological samples. Our 70-80 publications annually from TwinsUK are highly cited and have an H factor of over 100 and include all the top Journals – Nature, Science, Cell, Lancet, New England Journal etc. and was ranked in the top 1% of cited research groups globally in 2015.

The department has about 400m2 of administrative, lab and clinical space based at St Thomas’ Hospital and includes around 70 staff. This includes space specifically designed for the clinical examination of research subjects, investigations as well as the administration of large-scale epidemiological studies. The department has benefited from and used the new BMC NIHR Academic Clinical Research Facility of 500m2 in the North Wing from August 2008 to see patients and twins in shared facilities with Nutrition, Cardiovascular and Foetal Medicine.

The department is further divided into 7 research groups reflecting our main interests in common diseases and personalised medicine: age-research, epigenetics, microbiome, genomics, musculo-skeletal, eyes and hearing, metabolic and obesity. We have on average around 10 PhD students training with us – some with joint funding from foreign universities.

The DTR has been successful in obtaining a large number of grants totalling over £30M averaging 2 million pounds annually from the following funding bodies:

  • Wellcome Trust
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Environmental and Social Science Research Council ESRC
  • Arthritis Research UK
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
  • Chronic Diseases Research Foundation (CDRF)
  • European Union (EU, ERC, Marie-Curie)
  • Guide dogs for the Blind
  • Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Guy’s and St. Thomas Charity
  • National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • Commercial Funding                                      
Principal Staff
Head of Department    Tim Spector
Reader/Hon Consultant Rheumatologist    Frances Williams
Frost Chair of Ophthalmology Chris Hammond
Senior Lecturer Jordana Bell
Senior Lecturer  Kerrin Small
Senior Lecturer  Mario Falchi
Senior Lecturer                     Pirro Hysi
Senior Clinical Lecturer Claire Steves
Senior Bioinformatician/Honorary Lecturer   Massimo Mangino
Executive Director  Deborah Hart


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