craig-valueoftwinsfor-2020.pdf (387.85 kB)
The value of twins for health and medical research: a third of a century of progress
journal contributionposted on 2020-02-01, 00:00 authored by Jeffrey CraigJeffrey Craig, L Calais-Ferreira, M P Umstad, D Buchwald
In 1984, Hrubec and Robinette published what was arguably the first review of the role of twins in medical research. The authors acknowledged a growing distinction between two categories of twin studies: Those aimed at assessing genetic contributions to disease and those aimed at assessing environmental contributions while controlling for genetic variation. They concluded with a brief section on recently founded twin registries that had begun to provide unprecedented access to twins for medical research. Here we offer an overview of the twin research that, in our estimation, best represents the field has progress since 1984. We start by summarizing what we know about twinning. We then focus on the value of twin study designs to differentiate between genetic and environmental influences on health and on emerging applications of twins in multiple areas of medical research. We finish by describing how twin registries and networks are accelerating twin research worldwide.