GENERAL INFORMATION

WHAT IS THE MID-ATLANTIC TWIN REGISTRY (MATR)?

The MATR is a population-based twin registry housed in Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)'s Office of Research & Innovation. With more than 50,000 individuals of varying ages and demographic backgrounds, the MATR is the largest twin registry in the United States. The registry was formed in 1997 when the Virginia and North Carolina Twin Registries merged. Consequently, most MATR registrants live in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but twins across the US are part of the registry. We accept Research Proposals originating from both VCU- and non-VCU research teams who come from variety of disciplines. 

The MATR connects researchers with twins and twin families who have expressed their desire to participate in studies. In addition to subject ascertainment, MATR staff also support research goals by providing feedback and support for VCU IRB submissions, creating and 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 somewhat 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 distinct 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 Lilley, at 804-828-8138 or by email at echlilley@vcu.edu. She can help you determine the MATR’s role in your project as well as iron out study recruitment and design details. After your initial discussion, you will then need to complete the MATR study proposal form found here.

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any additional questions. We appreciate your interest in working with our twins, and we look forward to hearing about your project.