Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 February 2012
Twins, due to their unique genetic and environmental relationships, have provided crucial insight in our understanding of genetic contributions to numerous etiologically complex disorders in developed countries. As the leading cause of death and adult disability, cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases are common in China, followed by cancer. Obesity and psychological disorders are increasing. The overall goal of this program is to develop a resource for genetic epidemiologic studies of these and other common and complex diseases in China. Our initial focus is to delineate the genetic and environmental determinants of vascular diseases in general, coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke in particular. To date, we have over 4500 twin pairs registered and about 700 twin pairs studied for various metabolic traits (e.g., lipids, glucose, insulin, etc.). The long-term plan of this program is to (1) establish a population-based twin registry from several selected regions in China for future studies of specific common complex diseases; (2) conduct detailed phenotyping for clinical and intermediate traits related to cardiovascular diseases; (3) expand studies of twins to twin families by including their parents, siblings, and offspring for genetic linkage and association studies; and (4) follow up twins in the registry longitudinally. The goals of the program are health education and promotion of healthy behavior, early identification of cases to provide timely medical attention, and the evaluation of long-term effects of identified risk factors. We want to develop collaborations with investigators who have expertise in cancer, psychological disorders, and other disease areas.