Twin Research and Human Genetics


The Twin Research Registry at SRI International

Ruth E. Krasnowa1, Lisa M. Jacka1, Christina N. Lessov-Schlaggara2, Andrew W. Bergena1 and Gary E. Swana1 c1

a1 Center for Health Sciences, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA, USA

a2 Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA


The Twin Research Registry (TRR) at SRI International is a community-based registry of twins established in 1995 by advertising in local media, mainly on radio stations and in newspapers. As of August 2012, there are 3,120 same- and opposite-sex twins enrolled; 86% are 18 years of age or older (mean age 44.9 years, SD 16.9 years) and 14% less than 18 years of age (mean age 8.9 years, SD 4.5); 67% are female, and 62% are self-reported monozygotic (MZ). More than 1,375 twins have participated in studies over the last 15 years in collaboration with the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Stanford University School of Medicine. Each twin completes a registration form with basic demographic information either online at the TRR Web site or during a telephone interview. Contact is maintained with members by means of annual newsletters and birthday cards. The managers of the TRR protect the confidentiality of twin data with established policies; no information is given to other researchers without prior permission from the twins; and all methods and procedures are reviewed by an Institutional Review Board. Phenotypes studied thus far include those related to nicotine metabolism, mutagen sensitivity, pain response before and after administration of an opioid, and a variety of immunological responses to environmental exposures, including second-hand smoke and vaccination for seasonal influenza virus and Varicella zoster virus. Twins in the TRR have participated in studies of complex, clinically relevant phenotypes that would not be feasible to measure in larger samples.

(Received August 22 2012)

(Accepted September 04 2012)

(Online publication October 19 2012)


  • twins;
  • genetics;
  • metabolism;
  • vaccines;
  • immunology


c1 address for correspondence: Gary E. Swan, PhD, Center for Health Sciences, SRI International, 333 Ravenswood, BN133, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA. E-mail: