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Twins UK

About the cohort

Start date: 1992
Age at recruitment: 49-69
Sample size at recruitment: 346
Estimated current sample size: 9,300

TwinsUK was set up in 1992 and is currently based at the Department of Twin Research, King’s College London. Its initial main aim was to investigate the incidence of osteoporosis and other rheumatologic diseases. Since then the registry has expanded in number and areas of research covered. It currently comprises a register of 13,000 (9,300 currently active) identical and non-identical twins from across the UK with ages between sixteen and ninety eight, with an average age of 55. It is the UK’s only adult twin registry and the most clinically detailed in the world. The breadth of research the cohort has supported has expanded over the years to cover the genetics of a wide range of common complex traits, and the TwinsUK cohort is now probably the most genotyped and phenotyped in the world. It has had six sweeps of data collection in 1992-2001, 2002-2004, 2004-2007, 2007-2009, 2008-2010 and 2010-2012.

The current research focuses on the genetics of complex disease, in particular age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and eye disease. Our genome-wide association studies have led to the discovery of 400 novel genetic variants for over 30 diseases including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, melanoma and improvements in the diagnosis and treatments of diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Twin research at the department is at the forefront of the new and emerging fields of epigenetics. In addition, our microbiome research is unravelling the relationship between the bacteria that live in our body and our health, diet and our genes. 

Core funders

  • Wellcome Trust



Principal Investigator: Professor Tim Spector


Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology
King’s College London
St Thomas’ Hospital Campus
3rd & 4th Floor South Wing Block D
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH


E-mail for twins/general public:

E-mail for scientific community:


Tel for twins/general public: +44 (0) 20 7188 5555

Tel for scientific community: +44 (0) 20 7188 6765

Page last updated: 13 Mar 2015


  • Gender: Male, Female
  • Sample size: 5,000-9,999
  • Age: 10 to 19, 20 to 39, 40 to 59, 60 to 100
  • Anthropometric: Height, Weight, Waist circumference, Hip circumference, Blood pressure
  • Physical: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Musculoskeletal, Hearing and vision, Reproductive
  • Psychological: Mental health, Cognitive function
  • Lifestyle: Smoking, Physical activity, Dietary habits, Alcohol
  • Socio-economic: Occupation, Finances, Family circumstances, Education, Ethnic group, Marital status
  • Biological samples: Blood, Urine, Saliva, Other