Twin Research and Human Genetics


Australian Twin Registry: 30 Years of Progress

John L. Hoppera1 c1, Debra L. Foleya2, Paul A. Whitea3 and Vincent Pollaersa4

a1 Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

a2 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

a3 Centre for Genetic Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

a4 Advisory Board, Australian Twin Registry, Melbourne, Australia


The Australian Twin Registry (ATR) is a national volunteer resource of twin pairs and higher-order multiples willing to consider participating in health, medical, and scientific research. The vision of the ATR is ‘to realize the full potential of research involving twins to improve the health and well-being of all Australians’. The ATR has been funded continuously by the National Health and Medical Council for more than 30 years. Its core functions entail the recruitment and retention of twin members, the maintenance of an up-to-date database containing members’ contact details and baseline information, and the promotion and provision of open access to researchers from all institutes in Australia, and their collaborators, in a fair and equitable manner. The ATR is administered by The University of Melbourne, which acts as custodian. Since the late 1970s the ATR has enrolled more than 40,000 twin pairs of all zygosities and facilitated more than 500 studies that have produced at least 700 peer-reviewed publications from classical twin studies, co-twin control studies, within-pair comparisons, twin family studies, longitudinal twin studies, randomized controlled trials, and epigenetics studies, as well as studies of issues specific to twins. New initiatives include: a Health and Life Style Questionnaire; data collection, management, and archiving using a secure online software program (The Ark); and the International Network of Twin Registries. The ATR's expertise and 30 years of experience in providing services to national and international twin studies has made it an important resource for research across a broad range of disciplines.

(Received August 31 2012)

(Accepted October 17 2012)

(Online publication December 03 2012)


  • epigenetics;
  • higher order multiples;
  • International Network of Twin Registries;
  • research enabling;
  • The Ark;
  • twin pairs


c1 address for correspondence: John L. Hopper, Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne, Level 3, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton, VIC 3010, Australia. E-mail: