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Establishing a Twin Register: An Invaluable Resource for (Behavior) Genetic, Epidemiological, Biomarker, and ‘Omics’ Studies

  • Veronika V. Odintsova (a1) (a2), Gonneke Willemsen (a1), Conor V. Dolan (a1), Jouke-Jan Hottenga (a1), Nicholas G. Martin (a3), P. Eline Slagboom (a4), Juan R. Ordoñana (a5) and Dorret I. Boomsma (a1)...


Twin registers are wonderful research resources for research applications in medical and behavioral genetics, epidemiology, psychology, molecular genetics, and other areas of research. New registers continue to be launched all over the world as researchers from different disciplines recognize the potential to boost and widen their research agenda. In this article, we discuss multiple aspects that need to be taken into account when initiating a register, from its preliminary sketch to its actual development. This encompasses aspects related to the strategic planning and key elements of research designs, promotion and management of a twin register, including recruitment and retaining of twins and family members of twins, phenotyping, database organization, and collaborations between registers. We also present information on questions unique to twin registers and twin-biobanks, such as the assessment of zygosity by SNP arrays, the design of (biomarker) studies involving related participants, and the analyses of clustered data. Altogether, we provide a number of basic guidelines and recommendations for reflection when planning a twin register.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Dorret Boomsma, Netherlands Twin Register, Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail:


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Establishing a Twin Register: An Invaluable Resource for (Behavior) Genetic, Epidemiological, Biomarker, and ‘Omics’ Studies

  • Veronika V. Odintsova (a1) (a2), Gonneke Willemsen (a1), Conor V. Dolan (a1), Jouke-Jan Hottenga (a1), Nicholas G. Martin (a3), P. Eline Slagboom (a4), Juan R. Ordoñana (a5) and Dorret I. Boomsma (a1)...


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