WHAT IS THE MID-ATLANTIC TWIN REGISTRY (MATR)?
The Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry is a population-based registry comprised of over 50,000 twins of all ages and backgrounds. The MATR, which was established when the Virginia and North Carolina Twin Registries merged over a decade ago, is part of VCU’s Office of Research. For over thirty years, initially through the MCV Twin Studies and then as the VA & NC Twin Registries and now as the MATR, our twins have contributed to research endeavors in and outside the VCU community. The MATR now stands as a unique component of the VCU system and is a resource unmatched by any other college or university in the entire United States. We welcome research efforts from multiple areas of study and organizations (VCU and non-VCU). One of the main functions of the MATR is to act as a liaison between researchers and twins and their family members that are willing to consider participating in research. In addition to completing subject ascertainment, the MATR supports research goals in a variety of ways, including but not limited to providing feedback and support for VCU IRB submissions, creating or modifying study documents, providing cost estimates for grant submissions, and coordinating the logistics of data and/or sample collection.
WHY STUDY TWINS?
If you’re new to twin research, you may be wondering what makes twins and higher order multiples such a valuable resource. Twins and higher order multiples provide scientists with the unique opportunity to better determine the relationship between a trait, its heritability and the effect an individual’s environment has on the expression of that trait. Scientists are able to do so because of the unique development of twins (i.e., shared uterine and typically shared childhood environments) and the genetic relationships of identical twins, fraternal twins and other multiples. Equipped with a better understanding of how certain traits are influenced by our genes and environment, scientists can gain insight that may improve disease treatment and prevention as well as our understanding of what drives certain human behaviors.
HOW ARE TWINS STUDIED?
Cross sectional: Resolve genetic and environmental influences on outcome
Longitudinal: Genetic and environmental influence on developmental change
Discordant Monozygotic Twins: specific environmental influences
Epigenetic or Gene Expression: Characterizing mechanisms of environmental influence
Children of Twins: Social and genetic transmission of risk from parents to children
Spouses of Twins: Analyzing the role of mate selection in populations
HOW CAN YOU CONDUCT A STUDY WITH MATR TWINS?
In order to conduct a study with the MATR, please contact the MATR Administrator, Emily Hill, at 804-828-8138 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can help you determine the MATR’s role in your project and help you iron out study recruitment and design details. You will then need to complete the MATR study proposal form found here.