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article imageNorthwestern-UIUC researchers launch Illinois’ new twins registry

By Tim Sandle     May 19, 2019 in Science
Northwestern-UIUC scientists have created the Illinois Twins Project (ITP). This is designed to be the first- database to function as scientific resource for scientists exploring how genes and environment influence twins and multiples.
Twin studies refer to research areas looking at identical or fraternal twins. Many studies set out to examine the importance of environmental and genetic influences for traits, phenotypes, and disorders. This extends into areas like behavioral genetics and psychology.
In the past twins studies have been used to assess and to track traits ranging from personal behavior to the presentation of severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. The importance of twins studies is because they allow for the examination of environmental influence and varying genetic makeup. This is especially so with so-called "identical" twins, who share essentially 100 percent of their genes.
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The new database will include data relating to twins, from newton up to the age of 17, relating to the population of Illinois. There are no caps on the numbers of twins enrolled into the scheme.
An immediate focus with be with twins aged five and their parents, as the researchers involved are keen to assess what happens as children transition into school. Family consent is sought for each aspect of study.
Commenting on the aims of the new database, Northwestern University’s Jennifer Tacket said: “Studying twins and other multiples allows researchers to look at differences between identical twins who share all DNA and family environment and fraternal twins who share family environment and approximately 50 percent of their DNA.”
She adds that: “Twin studies can offer insights into the complex influences of genetics, shared family environment and non-shared environment on things like personality traits, relationship patterns, academic outcomes and other psychological constructs.”
The database will be run between Northwestern University and the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign.
The video below provides further information about the program:
The group running the database are an interdisciplinary group of scientists, which reflects the
complex interplay of factors that need to be studied.
More about Twins, Genetics, Genes, Biology
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