Researchers challenge focus on rural older adults in Chris Whitty’s latest health report 

Tuesday 4th June – by Aaruthy Suthahar

In a report published this week in Clinical Medicine, researchers from the Centre for Ageing Resilience in a Changing Environment (CARICE) show that contrary to that suggested in Chris Whitty’s latest annual Chief Medical Officer (CMO) report for England, most older adults live in urban areas rather than rural areas. Adding in self-reported health as a measure of need for services, a more complex picture of ageing demographics emerged, suggesting a need for a nuanced understanding when planning healthcare services and resource allocation.

According to Nathan Cheetham, Senior Postdoctoral Data Scientist: 

“Chris Whitty’s latest report as Chief Medical Officer highlights the importance of understanding the geography of ageing in England. However, it’s crucial to consider both absolute and relative population metrics for a comprehensive view.” 

Census 2021 data indicates that approximately three-quarters of older adults in England and Wales, equivalent to 8.4 million individuals, live in urban regions. This challenges the emphasis placed on rural and coastal areas in the CMO report. 

Professor Claire J. Steves, specialising in Ageing and Health, emphasises: 

“We need to move beyond simplistic rural-urban dichotomies when planning healthcare services. The absolute numbers and health needs of older adults in urban areas demand attention. This is particularly important as we experience more climate change-related heat waves which mostly affect urban hotspots. Older people living in such places also tend to be more vulnerable.”   

“This is particularly important as we experience more climate change-related heat waves which mostly affect urban hotspots.  Older people living in such places are the most vulnerable group.”

Projected population growth further complicates assumptions about urban-rural dynamics. Rather than shrinking, urban areas are projected to experience significant growth in older populations over the next two decades, with a projected increase of 43% compared to 48% in rural areas by 2043. 

Disparities in health outcomes underscore the need for subtle policy responses, urban-dwelling older adults are not only more numerous but also more likely to reside in deprived neighbourhoods and report poorer health compared to their rural counterparts.

Investing in preventive measures and understanding the diverse needs of older adults across different geographical areas is imperative for ensuring equitable healthcare provision.   

As policymakers navigate the evolving landscape of ageing demographics, a comprehensive approach considering both absolute numbers and health indicators is vital for effectively addressing the healthcare needs of older adults in England. 

Study Reveals ZOE Personalised Diets Yield Health Improvements 

9th May 2024 – by Aaruthy Suthahar

In a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, researchers from ZOE, who are running the largest in-depth nutrition study in the world, examined the impact of personalised dietary advice versus general recommendations on cardiometabolic health. This study, involving 347 participants aged 41 to 70 years, sheds light on the effectiveness of tailored dietary programmes. 

Participants were randomly assigned to either receive personalised dietary guidance by ZOE or standard care advice based on the US Department of Agriculture Guidelines for Americans. The personalised dietary programme utilised various factors including food characteristics, individual responses to food, microbiomes, and health history to create personalised food scores over an 18-week period. 

Results showed a significant reduction in triglyceride levels, which are types of fat in the blood, among participants following the personalised dietary programme compared to those receiving standard advice. However, there were no significant changes in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Additionally, improvements were noted in other measures such as body weight, waist circumference, HbA1c levels (which is a measure of blood sugar over time), diet quality, and the variety of gut bacteria, particularly among participants who closely followed the personalised programme. 

It is noteworthy that participants following the ZOE programme reported feeling better, with improvements in mood, reduced hunger, better sleep, and increased energy compared to the control group. Those who closely adhered to the ZOE advice also experienced greater improvements in weight and increases in diet quality, associated with lower risk for heart disease and diabetes. 

Overall, the study shows the potential benefits of personalised dietary advice in improving cardiometabolic health outcomes, providing valuable insights for individuals seeking effective dietary interventions. TwinsUK members were instrumental in enabling ZOE to develop their personalised dietary programme through the original research study on personalised diets, PREDICT.  

New Study Reveals Epigenetic Markers for Type 2 Diabetes Complications in Identical Twins 

23rd April 2024 – by Aaruthy Suthahar

A recent collaborative effort among seven international twin cohorts, including TwinsUK, has yielded new epigenetic markers of type 2 diabetes and potentially its complications. The paper, published in eBiomedicine, sheds light on distinct blood markers in identical twins, where one twin was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes while the other remained unaffected. 

Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body struggles to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. Over time, this can lead to serious health complications like heart disease, kidney problems, and vision impairment. Identical twins, who share the same genetic blueprint, offer a unique opportunity to explore why one twin might develop diabetes and its complications, while the other remains healthy. 

The study, led by a team of researchers at TwinsUK, delved into epigenetic markers—alterations to DNA that regulate gene activity and are influenced by genetic changes, lifestyle factors, and environmental exposures. By examining identical twins discordant for type 2 diabetes across various cohorts, the researchers aimed to pinpoint novel epigenetic changes indicative of diabetes. 

Among the notable findings were the identification of new blood epigenetic markers that distinguish twins with diabetes from their unaffected counterparts. Notably, these newly identified changes were found to be located within genes linked to complications of diabetes, like eye problems and high blood pressure. Additionally, the study also validated previously detected signals associated with diabetes. 

In summary, leveraging the unique genetic makeup of identical twins allowed the research team to uncover promising epigenetic markers of type 2 diabetes, that are also potentially indicative of the development of diabetes complications. This collaborative effort shows the power of the twin study approach in unravelling complex disease mechanisms and offers valuable insights for future research and clinical applications. 

The detailed findings of the study can be accessed in eBiomedicine via the following link HERE.

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Stories from Twins and TwinsUK Staff

25th March 2024 – by Aaruthy Suthahar

International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th is a day to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women globally. At TwinsUK, this year’s IWD was marked with heartfelt stories and reflections from both twins and staff members, showcasing the resilience, strength, and camaraderie that defines the twin community and the workplace culture at TwinsUK.

Twin Stories

Sue, reflected on her late twin sister Jill’s impactful work:

IWD meant nothing to me, but it did to my twin, best known as Jill Saward. Before her death in 2017, she worked tirelessly for women who’d been subjected to Rape or sexual abuse, and victims/survivors of domestic abuse. As identical twins it sometimes made life difficult. People felt through her work they knew me, but also total strangers would ask me how she was. Her impact really hit me after her death. Her friends and campaigners became my friends too – all women.

Francina and Vanessa, facing the daunting challenge of breast cancer, found strength in their twin connection.

We are facing one of our biggest challenges this international women’s day year as identical female twins with one of us being diagnosed with breast cancer. Having a mastectomy and facing chemotherapy all I could think about was how different I would look to my twin. We even joked about Vanessa wearing a head scarf when we go out as we love the “ are you twin” comments . We are both clinicians and Christian’s giving us resilience and the ability to face challenges head on. Vanessa has been a constant support and we are celebrating that the genetic test came back negative , reducing my twins risk of having breast cancer. I feel safe knowing my twin is there and am so grateful for my older sister as well. My prognosis is good so looking forward to beating my cancer and getting back to “double trouble“ outings with my twin.

Laura and Jill celebrated not only their twinship but also the joy of raising twin girls themselves:

In honour of International Women’s Day I’m celebrating my amazing identical twin sister Jill who herself has identical twin girls, Aurora ‘Rory’ and Clara – they recently turned 18 months old! They are the coolest and funniest girls on the planet and I watch them with absolute fascination. It is mine and my twin’s duty to set the best example to them of how lucky it is to be a twin and to celebrate it! In the photo, completely unplanned, we are all coordinating tops and bottoms (as are the front doors in the houses behind us).

Margaret and Barbara honored their mother’s legacy, recognising the sacrifices she made in raising them as twins.

I would like to celebrate mothers of twins! Our mother never grew tired of telling the story of how she had the surprise of her life when she was told there’s another baby after I was born. It can’t have been easy bringing up twins in the 1960’s and we only really appreciated this when my son and his fiance became the parents of twins in 2022! Watching them cope with tiny twins night and day has raised so many questions about our own early years. Sadly, we are not able to ask our mum about it as she passed in 2020. The photo attached was taken on her last Mother’s Day, during lockdown when we could not bear to leave her alone all day. Barbara and I will be forever grateful for everything she did for us.

Thoughts from TwinsUK staff

Aaruthy, Communications and Engagement Officer:

Working in the field of science research not only as a woman but also a woman of colour comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities due to lingering stereotypes and biases globally. Yet, at TwinsUK, as someone who is a woman of colour, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing a workplace where diversity and inclusion is embraced. Most of the staff in our department are women from all different backgrounds and each with their own talents and perspectives. I am truly inspired by the women I work with as we collaborate, support each other, and celebrate each other’s successes. I remain hopeful for a future where every woman, regardless of background, can thrive and succeed in the scientific research community.

Bridget, Senior Research Nurse at TwinsUK:

I’ve dedicated the majority of my nursing career to the fields of hematology, oncology, and palliative care, where I’ve been surrounded by compassionate and incredible women. Nursing is undeniably women-centric. My journey led me to TwinsUK, where I gained a glimpse into the world of science, and I’ve cherished every minute of it. Being surrounded by so many intelligent and supportive women from diverse backgrounds has been truly inspiring. Our department is led by fantastic women who wear multiple hats – they’re researchers, clinicians, leaders, and mothers all rolled into one. While there’s still some lingering gender bias in the scientific realm, I remain optimistic that we are making strides in the right direction, one step at a time.

Ayrun, Clinical Operations Manager at TwinsUK:

After my studies, I went from a laboratory assistant to the role of clinical operations manager within my department. Along this journey, I also welcomed two babies, which naturally brought challenges of balancing work with raising young children. However, being part of an inclusive and supportive department where you are made to feel secure makes navigating these challenges easier. What does International Women’s Day mean to me? It means celebrating women’s achievements and contributions- you only need to look at the remarkable women within our department! Equally, it reminds us to recognise the ongoing challenges women still face globally. It is also a day to promote solidarity, to empower, inspire, and uplift women of future generations.

Gulsah, Resource Admin Manager at TwinsUK:

Through my studies of Social sciences from secondary to University years, I was always made hyper-aware of the gender gaps that were statistical facts within our society but admit I had internalised these on some level. As a young, second-generation immigrant female, I did not have the confidence to break these barriers – which was until I started working for the Department of Twin Research. Being surrounded by incredibly successful women from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life changed my perspective entirely which ignited a new level of ambition in me. As the new Resource Admin Manager, and also a recent first-time mother, I am inspired daily by my remarkable colleagues (both professionally and personally) and couldn’t be prouder to be a woman in science celebrating International Women’s Day here at TwinsUK.

As we reflect on the stories shared by twins and TwinsUK staff, one thing becomes clear: the essence of International Women’s Day extends beyond a single day of celebration. It’s about honouring the past, celebrating the present, and advocating for a future where every woman, regardless of background or circumstance, can thrive. Whether it’s through sisterhood, solidarity, or mentorship, the spirit of IWD lives on in the collective efforts of women everywhere. At TwinsUK, it’s a spirit that continues to inspire and empower each and every day.

Daily fibre supplement improves older adults’ brain function in just 12 weeks

29th February 2024 – By Aaruthy Suthahar

Researcher’s from TwinsUK conducted a study on twins aged 60 and above has shed light on the intriguing connection between gut health and cognitive function.   

As populations age globally, the prevalence of age-related conditions such as muscle loss and cognitive decline is on the rise. Recognising the importance of addressing these issues, researchers at TwinsUK investigated how targeting the gut microbiota, the diverse community of microorganisms residing in our intestines, using a cheap, commercially available prebiotic supplement, could impact both muscle health and cognitive abilities as we age.

In a meticulously designed trial involving 36 twin pairs (72 individuals), participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or a prebiotic supplement daily for 12 weeks. Alongside this, all participants engaged in resistance exercises and received a protein supplement, aimed at improving muscle function.

Using innovative remote methods including video visits, online questionnaires, and cognitive testing, researchers tracked the participants’ progress throughout the trial. Notably, the prebiotic supplement led to significant changes in the participants’ gut microbiome composition, particularly an increase in the numbers of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium.

The study found no significant difference in muscle strength between the group receiving the prebiotic and those taking the placebo. However, participants who received the prebiotic demonstrated improved cognitive function compared to those getting placebo. This finding demonstrates a link between gut microbiome health and brain function in older adults.

First author Dr. Mary Ni Lochlainn said:

“Our results demonstrate that inexpensive and easily accessible interventions targeting the gut microbiome can improve cognition in older adults, halving the number of errors on a memory test. This holds huge promise for enhancing brain health and memory in our ageing population.”

Senior author Professor Claire Steves, Professor of Ageing and Health said: 

“The importance of this research is that these plant fibres are cheap and already over-the counter and therefore could benefit a wider group of people in these cash-strapped times. They are safe and generally well-tolerated.  Our next task is to see whether these effects are sustained over longer periods and in larger groups of people.” 

The study’s remote design proved successful, demonstrating the feasibility of conducting trials in older adults without the need for extensive travel or hospital visits. Challenges such as digital literacy and access to the necessary technology were acknowledged and will be addressed in future research.

While the study focused on older adults, its implications extend to broader research aimed at understanding the intricate relationship between gut health, physical function, and cognitive abilities across different age groups. As the population continues to age globally, unlocking the secrets of the gut-brain axis could offer novel strategies for promoting healthy ageing and combating age-related cognitive decline.

The findings of this study pave the way for larger-scale trials investigating the potential of gut microbiome interventions to improve muscle health and cognitive function in older adults. Could the gut microbiome represent a key target for a whole range of age-related declines, helping to keep older people independent? By addressing these critical health challenges, researchers aim to enhance the quality of life for ageing populations worldwide.

This study was supported by King’s Centre for Ageing Resilience in a Changing Environment (CARICE) and by grants from the National Institute of Health Research and Wellcome Trust. 

The Link Between Gut Viruses and Cardiometabolic Disease 

21st February 2024 – By TwinsUK

A recent review published by researchers at TwinsUK sheds light on the potential role of viruses living in the gut, known as phages, in cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs).  

CMDs are a group of common and often preventable chronic diseases that affect the system of the heart and include type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  They have been increasingly prevalent worldwide, with factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and diet contributing to their rise.  

More recently, the gut microbiome, a collection of microorganisms that exist in our large intestine, has also been implicated in CMDs. Interesting links have been found between bacteria and aspects of metabolic health, such as bodyweight, blood sugar and inflammation. However, the majority of existing research has focused on bacteria, overlooking other microorganisms such as phages. 

Phages are viruses that, instead of infecting human cells, infect bacteria cells, and in doing so play a crucial role in shaping bacterial communities within the gut, which in turn can affect human health. By infecting gut bacteria, phages can alter the abundance of bacteria, which may cause their levels to increase or decrease. Additionally, phages can change the way bacteria behave, for example by changing the metabolites that they release.    

Until now, studying the viruses in the gut has been challenging, which is one of the reasons why they have not been a focus of research. However, recent advancements are enabling researchers to investigate this potentially important but neglected aspect of gut health, with increasing interest being reflected in efforts such as the national Centre for Phage Research in Leicester, which aims to tackle a variety of global challenges through phages.  

Daniel Kirk, first author of the review, emphasises the importance of exploring the role of phages in CMDs: 

” As phages modulate gut bacteria communities, which in turn influence systemic health and susceptibility to cardiometabolic diseases, there is a need for a deeper understanding of how gut viruses contribute to cardiometabolic health.”   

To summarise what is currently known about phages in the gut microbiome in relation to CMDs, the authors searched for literature in this area. Across 15 studies, they found potential links between phages and obesity, type-2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome, amongst others. Their review highlights the potential involvement of phages in human health and provides information to inspire future research in the field, which is still at its inception and yet to be fully explored. 

The review also emphasises that harnessing the therapeutic potential of phages through phage therapy and faecal viral transplants could offer new avenues for treating CMDs. However, while the research is promising, more extensive studies and clinical trials are necessary to validate the efficacy of phage-based therapies in treating CMDs.

Lead author of the paper, Cristina Menni says:

“We highlight the broader implications of phage therapies beyond bacterial infections, extending to other diseases involving microbial imbalances in various organ systems.” 

The gut microbiome can predict treatment response in rheumatoid arthritis

Monday 19th February – by King’s College London

Professor Frances Williams’ chronic pain research group within TwinsUK at King’s College London has recently published an important article which helps understand the complex and varied response to treatment in rheumatoid arthritis. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder affecting many bodily systems, it is often characterised by painful swelling of the joints in the hands called flares, which creates irreversible damage. When an individual is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to quickly work out the most suitable medication for them to halt or subdue flares. Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are usually prescribed when a patient is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. For about a third of patients these medications work well, however for others, they do not, and some people experience very unpleasant side-effects. Knowing who will respond well to DMARD therapy such as a drug called methotrexate before medication regimes begin will save a lot of pain and joint damage for those with rheumatoid arthritis. 

This large project, funded by Versus Arthritis, recruited newly-diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients from 12 NHS rheumatology outpatient clinics throughout London and Southeast England. 160 patients agreed to take part before they started DMARD treatment. Participants completed health questionnaires and gave samples of stool to assess their gut microbiome. Then they started methotrexate treatment and were followed up three and six months later.

The aim of the research was to see if the gut microbiome could be used to predict who would respond well to DMARD treatment and who would require alternative medication to manage their rheumatoid arthritis. 

Lead co-author Max Freidin said:

“We currently have no tools to help us know who will do well on DMARD medication. It is difficult to establish the correct treatment without a trial-and-error approach, which sometimes takes many months, during which time significant joint damage can occur.”

The participants’ gut microbiome data predicted treatment who would respond well to methotrexate and who wouldn’t. The work sheds light on how methotrexate treats the disease – with decreased prevotella bugs seen early on in the stool in those who responded well to methotrexate. This suggests the early stool testing could lead to more rapid drug switching and improve outcomes.

Such steps forward are only made possible with the generous support of charities such as Versus Arthritis, along with the time and efforts of the clinicians, research nurses and of course rheumatoid arthritis patients attending rheumatology out-patient clinics. 

TwinsUK Twins Undergo First MRI Scan in New Study on Healthy Ageing 

19th January 2024 – By Aaruthy Suthahar

TwinsUK and the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences at King’s College London welcomed the first pair of twins to undergo an MRI scan for our new study on ageing, at the King’s Advanced MRI Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital. This milestone event marks the start of an exploration into early markers of disease and ageing throughout the body. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive scanning technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of the internal structures of the body. MRI allows us to safely see changes inside the body, often long before any clinical signs or symptoms are noticed. 

The Twins MR Imaging Study, utilising the UK’s first MAGNETOM Free.Max, signifies a leap in the field of medical imaging. This state-of-the-art scanner, installed at the King’s Advanced MRI Centre, represents a collaborative effort to push the boundaries of accessibility and innovation in healthcare. 2,500 TwinsUK members will undergo comprehensive MRI scans of the brain, spine, heart, and other vital organs at the King’s Advanced MRI Centre. 

Using the MRI data, the team will look at the size, structure, and function of organs like the heart, liver, blood vessels and brain, and body tissue composition such as muscles, fat and ligaments. The MRI data gathered will be connected with health record data and a wealth of new and historical data generously donated by TwinsUK members for up to 30 years. The outcome will be a comprehensive and powerful resource to explore and support research into health and ageing-related topics.  

Study co-lead Professor Claire Steves, Head of Department at TwinsUK said: 

“Twin studies provide an ideal way to explore how the body develops as it matures and how age-related diseases form. They help us unpick the effects of genetics and life experiences on how the body changes.” 

Professor Sebastien Ourselin FReng FMedSci, Head of the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences explained:

The opportunity to bring more than 20 years of twins health data into collaboration with the advanced medical imaging facilities of our school will enable us to create one of the most complete research biobanks of the UK population. From this we can look to learn more about the effects of environment and lifestyle on health and how they impact on normal human aging. This is an exciting time for cross-disciplinary research, and I look forward to the outcomes of this new study.

TwinUK members Jean and Sharon said:

“While we engage in familiar tests when we come in for visits at TwinsUK, our experience has continually been enriched by technological upgrades and our involvement in cutting-edge research studies.

Our journey with TwinsUK has not only contributed to scientific advancements but has also remarkably enhanced our well-being. We’ve noticed a significant improvement in our health since becoming members. Sharing a day together when we come in also adds an extra layer of joy to the experience.

Joining this new MRI study is especially exciting for us, drawing from a past MRI that identified a back issue, leading to successful corrective surgery. This really shows how important and effective MRI scans are, and we’re super excited to be part of this new study.”

Eligible TwinsUK members will be invited to take part in the study over the next few years.

In Search of Clues: Circulating Inflammatory Proteins and Unchanging Tinnitus

3rd January 2024 – by Kings College London

Professor Frances Williams’ Chronic Pain and Hearing Loss Research Group, part of our team at TwinsUK, has recently published another piece of the puzzle in the quest to understand and treat tinnitus. 

The large project – funded by Tinnitus UK as part of their Large Research Grants Programme – spanned Sweden and the UK, recruiting participants with tinnitus and matched controls firstly in over 1,000 participants in Sweden and then ran a replication of the study in over 1,000 twins from Twins UK. The primary objective of the research was to identify biomarkers for tinnitus.  

Co-author Max Freiden said:  

“It is difficult to establish biomarkers to detect or treat the disorder, because tinnitus is heterogeneous, indicating that various factors determine whether a person develops tinnitus.” 

Surprisingly, tinnitus shares several signs and symptoms with chronic pain. Neuroimaging suggests similar disturbances in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, leading to distorted interpretation of sensory inputs, such as sound.  A localised brain inflammatory response, detectable in the bloodstream, has been reported to occur with chronic pain. The team investigated whether inflammatory biomarkers could be found in people with tinnitus, hypothesising that chronic pain and constant tinnitus may be associated with neuroinflammation. 

Importantly, factors unrelated to hearing difficulties that affect inflammatory marker levels, such as age, sex, and body mass index, were accounted for. Tinnitus tends to be accompanied by stress, anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity to sound, face pain, and headache; however, none of these conditions were related to inflammatory marker levels. While a weak association of five inflammatory proteins was seen in the Swedish cohort, the finding was not replicated in the UK cohort, leading researchers to conclude there is a lack of association between plasma biomarkers and constant tinnitus. Other research has shown that biomarkers can be derived from electrophysiological measures, but this does not appear to be the case for blood biomarkers. 

Although the team didn’t find a tinnitus biomarker, negative results are considered progress and constitute an important aspect of directing future research and treatment. Such advancements are only possible with the generous research investments from charities like Tinnitus UK, and the important contribution of participants from TwinsUK and others who consent to research.  

Link to the article is HERE

My work experience at TwinsUK

12th December 2023 – by Emily Herbert

My work experience at TwinsUK has been wonderful. I was incredibly nervous to start, especially because some of the tasks planned for me were things I had never experienced before – namely, research ethics, shadowing clinical visits, and working alongside very experienced scientists. However, from the minute I arrived, everyone was incredibly welcoming, kind, and supportive of me being alongside them in the department.

Over the course of my five days at TwinsUK, I have learned so much about what it is like to work in a scientific role. I have discovered roles that I didn’t even know were a possibility, and it has really opened my eyes to the variety of careers available.

During my first day, I had the opportunity to shadow visits with the twins in the clinic. I saw the huge variety of work that’s carried out and the different stages of the TwinsUK research programme. This included a variety of tests, including blood tests, memory exams, and bone density scans.

Throughout my week, I had the chance to speak to members of staff across different teams, learning about how the data is organised and analysed, as well as the research ethics that underpin all the work in the department. It was also really interesting to see how the logistics of sample collection work. Each person I spoke to was enthusiastic about their role within the team, and it was extremely helpful to learn about their career path and the work they do each day as part of TwinsUK. It was also extremely inspiring to listen to the researchers talk about the work they are doing, including the lecture I attended from a PhD student.

My last day was spent in the lab, the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is the TwinsUK research programme. I found it fascinating to see how samples are used and interpreted. Everyone in the lab team was encouraging and answered my many questions!

Sometimes it’s hard to think ahead to what careers might be possible for a particular subject, but this experience has been invaluable in understanding the wide range of possibilities within scientific research organizations like TwinsUK, which one day I hope to be a part of.

What struck me the most about everyone in the department was how connected and encouraging they are to one another. The work being done in the department is fascinating, and the relationship built with each set of twins is really lovely. It’s also amazing that the data is not only used for the incredible work within the department but is also shared with scientists worldwide.

I highly recommend TwinsUK as an inspiring placement for work experience. I have had an extremely enjoyable week, and it’s been everything I could have hoped for.

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