Organization: The Department of Twin Research (DTR) is an academic department number 50 people within the Division of Genetics, KCL. The TwinsUK cohort was established in 1992 to explore the role of genes in complex age related diseases, and is one of the most detailed cohorts of adult twins in the world – with hundreds of measurements for each twin over 15 years. Within the department there is a wealth of experience in genetic epidemiological analysis, involving musculoskeletal studies, ageing and telomeres, as well as gene discovery using GWAS studies for ageing traits http://www.twinsuk.ac.uk/.
More recently, the collection has become an NIHR BRC BioResource, with extensive ‘omics’ technologies including metabolomics, expression data and methylation information. As a recallable resource, the scope for exploring genetic and epigenetic influence on a wide range of phenotypes has never been greater. The register is the only UK-wide adult twin database. The St Thomas’ Registry is of comparable size to the major European nation twin registers, but is the most densely phenotyped and genotyped large cohort in the world with considerably greater depth of phenotypic and genotypic data. The DTR has about 800m2 of administrative, lab and clinical space based at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. This includes space specifically designed for the clinical examination of research subjects, investigations as well as the administration of large-scale epidemiological studies.
Team: Dr Frances Williams is Senior Lecturer/Hon Consultant Rheumatologist with a strong track record in musculoskeletal genetic research and international consortia performing genomewide association studies (GWAS) Until recently a Wellcome Trust Intermediate fellow, she was academic lead on the FP6 Euroclot project investigating the genetics of stroke and has recently published a multi-centre GWAS for disc degeneration – the first in this trait in the world. She works closely with Prof Tim Spector, director; a senior genetic statistician Prof Spector has a proven track record in EU research projects as coordinator of the large-scale FP7 -Treat-OA project (www.treatoa.eu) and EuroBATS project. He is also an ERC Senior Investigator and partner in the EU FP7 ENGAGE, and GEFOS projects. If this project is awarded we will appoint a dedicated senior statistician to perform the twin analyses – and others as required.
Relevant Competencies and Experience: The current team at the Dept of Twin Research (DTR) already has considerable multi-disciplinary expertise and skills to support the proposed research. The total size of the department is around 50 staff-a mix of admin staff and academics – but all working with the NIHR BRC TwinsUK BioResource. Amongst the academics are genetic statisticians/epidemiologists with expertise in twin studies, GWAS of aging traits and glycomics (Drs Valdes). The dept also have the infrastructure to perform the proposed study without major new equipment or facilities. Other academics in the dept include experts in epigenetics (Dr Jordana Bell), expression (Dr Kerrin Small), epidemiology of aging (Dr Ali Reza Moayyeri) and sensory aging (Dr Hammond). The department has an IT team led by Darioush Yarand who can support the informatics aspect of the project, as appropriate. We have a computer cluster internally comprising of 68 CPU cores and a 20TB Storage device and access to the NIHR BRC cluster at the Division of Genetics comprising of 400CPU cores and 200TB storage facility.
The DTR publishes over 60 papers per year – with over 25 collaborative Nature and Nature Genetics papers in the last three years and an H Index of over 80.
Main Tasks: Leader: WP8; Participant: WP2, WP4, WP5, WP7.