Unique University service celebrates 30th anniversary

September 11 / 69

Research Fellow. Dr Jennifer Stone, and Pouyr Shaegan, from the School of Population Health scan films from a long-running twin study of mammographic density, a strong and heritable risk factor for breast cancer.  The study involves twins from the Australian Twin Registry.
Research Fellow. Dr Jennifer Stone, and Pouyr Shaegan, from the School of Population Health scan films from a long-running twin study of mammographic density, a strong and heritable risk factor for breast cancer. The study involves twins from the Australian Twin Registry.

The University’s Australian Twin Registry (ATR) has celebrated its 30th anniversary.

The School of Population Health had a central role in fostering the service, which, when  founded in 1981, was the first national twin research registry.

 It has grown to become the largest voluntary twin registry in the world, with about 66 000 members, or 33 000 twin pairs.   

The twins range from newborn babies to people in their 90s. One in six of Australia’s 400,000-strong twin population is a member.

Professor John Hopper from the School of Population Health has been Director of the ATR for 21 years.  He said it had grown as researchers became increasingly aware of the value of involving twins in their studies.

“Twins help us understand the impact of genetic and environmental factors on health and disease in a unique way,” he said.

 “Findings from twin studies have helped us to improve health outcomes for all Australians.”
The registry matches volunteer twins with researchers from Australia’s universities, hospitals and research institutes who are seeking to find causes and cures for a range of diseases, from epilepsy to cancer. It has facilitated more than 450 twin research studies.

Professor Hopper said as the registry’s custodian, the University had provided ongoing support and leadership.  He said many University staff had pioneered new areas of twin research.
“The registry is recognised as a vital national research resource, supporting key aspects of the national health, medical and broader scientific research effort."

He thanked co-founder Dr John Mathews, who also served as the ATR’s inaugural director from 1981-85.“The ATR could not have prospered without the support and tireless efforts of many in the University community over the past 30 years,” Professor Hopper said.

 “It is not only the academic, teaching, administrative and research communities that have made a difference, but also twins from within the University -- employees, students and alumni – who have come forward to make a contribution.”


 













 



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