TwinsUK is the UK’s largest adult twin registry and the most clinically detailed in the world.

Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London set up the cohort in 1992 to investigate the incidence of osteoporosis and other rheumatologic diseases in several hundred monozygotic (identical) twins. We now have over 15,000 identical and non-identical twins from across the UK, with ages between eighteen and one hundred and our research has expanded to include multiple diseases and conditions.

We are one of the most deeply characterised adult twin cohort in the world, providing a rich platform for scientists to research health and ageing longitudinally. More than 1,000 data access collaborations and 250,000 samples have been shared with external researchers, resulting in over 800 publications since 2012. There are over 700,000 biological samples stored and data collected on twins with repeat measures at multiple timepoints.

Extremely large datasets (billions of data points) have been generated for each TwinsUK participant over 30 years, including phenotypes from questionnaires, multiple clinical visits, and record linkage, and genetic and omic data from biological samples. We ensure derived datasets from raw data are returned by collaborators to enhance the resource.

More recently, postal and at-home collection strategies have allowed sample collections from frail twins, our whole cohort for COVID-19 studies, and for new twin recruits. We are now working to link to twins’ official health, education and environmental records for health research purposes, which will further enhance the resource.

Find out more about the history of TwinsUK in the webinar below with Professor Tim Spector and Dr Deborah Hart: