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First Twin Register Launches in South Dakota

Jun 21, 2016 08:25AM ● By MED Magazine

Avera and the Avera Institute for Human Genetics have established the first and only twin register in South Dakota. The new register will enable the AIHG to collect and analyze DNA from twins throughout the Midwest to provide insight into traits and diseases that are specific to the region.


“We look at twins because they have nearly identical DNA. Why does one twin get a disease and the other doesn’t? That’s what we are studying. We look at both the genetics and environmental influences on diseases such as type 1 diabetes, behavioral disorders and cardiovascular disease,” says Gareth Davies, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and Scientific Director at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics.


The register is the result of Avera’s experience and longstanding association with the Netherlands Twin Register at Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, one of the world’s premier twin studies and databases, for which Avera provides DNA sequencing. The two entities have recently formalized their international partnership to expand their scientific collaboration.


Through its partnership with the Netherlands Twin Register, the AIHG has collected and analyzed more than 80,000 DNA samples. Along with the twin studies, Avera and VU will be working on several scientific collaborative projects, including the exchange of staff between Avera and VU, a joint PhD program, large-scale genotyping of the twins collection, deep sequencing and phenotyping of thousands of twin pairs, and the creation of an Avera/VU bioinformatics team.


The AIHG will continue to serve as the genetics lab for all genotyping for the Netherlands Twin Register and future genetics research in partnership with VU.


All identical or fraternal twins, triplets and multiples and their immediate family members are invited to sign up for the Avera Twin Register. Enrollment is free and includes genetic testing to determine if twins are identical or fraternal. More information is available to