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While bottom-up informal links, partnerships, and programs among universities in the region have proliferated, so too have government-initiated efforts toward developing regional partnerships in higher education. This chapter will explore these developments at the government and institutional levels, with particular emphasis on top-down policy initiatives for regional student exchange, research collaboration, quality assurance, and foreign credential evaluation. These policies will be considered in light of broader socio-cultural, economic, and political forces continually shaping the region.
During much of the 20th century, Japan was recognized as a leader in knowledge production and technological innovation in East Asia, and its well-established higher education system was seen as the best in the region. Throughout this period Japan and its universities adopted an orientation toward East Asia that evolved in line with the modernizing development of neighboring countries. In the postwar period Japan viewed the region as a beneficiary of international education, with subsequent economic development in the region leading to a shift in approach “from aid to trade.” As neighboring economies have continued to develop, in recent decades Japan has been confronted with a new reality: the nation and its universities are no longer “No. 1” in the region, with China surpassing Japan in terms of GDP and a number of countries and societies such as Singapore, mainland China, Hong Kong, and South Korea emerging as strong competitors in the higher education sector. High levels of government funding for R&D by neighboring countries are now juxtaposed by a lack of such support in Japan, resulting from prolonged economic stagnation and challenges posed by the country’s shifting demography. Japan’s position has now been challenged, forcing the nation to reckon with its persistent yet misaligned perception that it is somehow “above and ahead” of its Asian neighbors.
Many in Japan’s government and universities have recognized this new reality, and have sought alternative strategies to augment Japan’s global competitiveness in spite of funding constraints. One such approach has been through internationalization, including various forms of regional cooperation in the higher education sector.
Susceptibility to infection such as SARS-CoV-2 may be influenced by host genotype. TwinsUK volunteers (n = 3261) completing the C-19 COVID-19 symptom tracker app allowed classical twin studies of COVID-19 symptoms, including predicted COVID-19, a symptom-based algorithm to predict true infection, derived from app users tested for SARS-CoV-2. We found heritability of 49% (32−64%) for delirium; 34% (20−47%) for diarrhea; 31% (8−52%) for fatigue; 19% (0−38%) for anosmia; 46% (31−60%) for skipped meals and 31% (11−48%) for predicted COVID-19. Heritability estimates were not affected by cohabiting or by social deprivation. The results suggest the importance of host genetics in the risk of clinical manifestations of COVID-19 and provide grounds for planning genome-wide association studies to establish specific genes involved in viral infectivity and the host immune response.
Effective snow grain radius (re) is mapped at high resolution using near-infrared hyperspectral imaging (NIR-HSI). The NIR-HSI method can be used to quantify re spatial variability, change in re due to metamorphism, and visualize water percolation in the snowpack. Results are presented for three different laboratory-prepared snow samples (homogeneous, ice lens, fine grains over coarse grains), the sidewalls of which were imaged before and after melt induced by a solar lamp. The spectral reflectance in each ~3 mm pixel was inverted for re using the scaled band area of the ice absorption feature centered at 1030 nm, producing re maps consisting of 54 740 pixels. All snow samples exhibited grain coarsening post-melt as the result of wet snow metamorphism, which is quantified by the change in re distributions from pre- and post-melt images. The NIR-HSI method was compared to re retrievals from a field spectrometer and X-ray computed microtomography (micro-CT), resulting in the spectrometer having the same mean re and micro-CT having 23.9% higher mean re than the hyperspectral imager. As compact hyperspectral imagers become more widely available, this method may be a valuable tool for assessing re spatial variability and snow metamorphism in field and laboratory settings.
TwinsUK is the largest cohort of community-dwelling adult twins in the UK. The registry comprises over 14,000 volunteer twins (14,838 including mixed, single and triplets); it is predominantly female (82%) and middle-aged (mean age 59). In addition, over 1800 parents and siblings of twins are registered volunteers. During the last 27 years, TwinsUK has collected numerous questionnaire responses, physical/cognitive measures and biological measures on over 8500 subjects. Data were collected alongside four comprehensive phenotyping clinical visits to the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London. Such collection methods have resulted in very detailed longitudinal clinical, biochemical, behavioral, dietary and socioeconomic cohort characterization; it provides a multidisciplinary platform for the study of complex disease during the adult life course, including the process of healthy aging. The major strength of TwinsUK is the availability of several ‘omic’ technologies for a range of sample types from participants, which includes genomewide scans of single-nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, metabolomic profiles, microbiomics, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers, gene expression arrays, RNA sequencing and telomere length measures. TwinsUK facilitates and actively encourages sharing the ‘TwinsUK’ resource with the scientific community — interested researchers may request data via the TwinsUK website (http://twinsuk.ac.uk/resources-for-researchers/access-our-data/) for their own use or future collaboration with the study team. In addition, further cohort data collection is planned via the Wellcome Open Research gateway (https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/gateways). The current article presents an up-to-date report on the application of technological advances, new study procedures in the cohort and future direction of TwinsUK.
Twin researchers face the challenge of accurately determining the zygosity of twins for research. As part of the annual questionnaire between 1999 and 2006, 8,307 twins from the TwinsUK registry were asked to complete five questions (independently from their co-twin) to ascertain their self-perceived zygosity during childhood on up to five separate occasions. This questionnaire is known as the ‘peas in the pod’ questionnaire (PPQ), but there is little evidence of its validation. Answers were scored and classified as monozygotic (MZ), dizygotic (DZ), or unknown zygosity (UZ) and were compared with 4,484 twins with genotyping data who had not been selected for zygosity. Of these, 3,859 individuals (46.5% of those who had a zygosity from PPQ) had zygosity classified by both the PPQ and genotyping. Of the 708 individual twins whose answers meant that they were consistently classed as MZ in the PPQ, 683 (96.5%) were MZ within the genotype data. Of the 945 individual twins consistently classed as DZ within questionnaire, 936 (99.0%) were DZ in the genotype data. Where both twins scored MZ consistently across multiple questionnaires, 99.6% were MZ on genotyping, 99.7% were DZ on genotyping if both twins consistently scored DZ. However, for the initial questionnaire, 88.6% of those scoring as MZ were genotypically MZ and 98.7% DZ. For twin pairs where both scored UZ, 94.7% were DZ. Using the PPQ on a single occasion provided a definitive classification of whether the twin was MZ or DZ with an overall accuracy of 86.9%, increasing to 97.9% when there was a consistent classification of zygosity across multiple questionnaires. This study has shown that the PPQ questionnaire is an excellent proxy indicator of zygosity in the absence of genotyping information.
Enteric methane (CH4) production is a side-effect of herbivore digestion, but it is unknown whether CH4 itself influences digestive physiology. We investigated the effect of adding CH4 to, or reducing it in, the reticulorumen (RR) in a 4×4 Latin square experiment with rumen-fistulated, non-lactating cows, with four treatments: (i) control, (ii) insufflation of CH4 (iCH4), (iii) N via rumen fistula, (iv) reduction of CH4 via administration of bromochloromethane (BCM). DM intake (DMI), apparent total tract digestibility, digesta mean retention times (MRT), rumen motility and chewing activity, spot breath CH4 emission (CH4exhal, litre/kg DMI) as well as CH4 dissolved in rumen fluid (CH4RRf, µg/ml) were measured. Data were analysed using mixed models, including treatment (or, alternatively, CH4exhal or CH4RRf) and DMI relative to body mass0·85 (rDMI) as covariates. rDMI was the lowest on the BCM treatment. CH4exhal was highest for iCH4 and lowest for BCM treatments, whereas only BCM affected (reduced) CH4RRf. After adjusting for rDMI, CH4RRf had a negative association with MRT in the gastrointestinal tract but not in the RR, and negative associations with fibre digestibility and measures of rumination activity. Adjusting for rDMI, CH4exhal had additionally a negative association with particle MRT in the RR and a positive association with rumen motility. Thus, higher rumen levels of CH4 (CH4exhal or CH4RRf) were associated with shorter MRT and increased motility. These findings are tentatively interpreted as a feedback mechanism in the ruminant digestive tract that aims at mitigating CH4 losses by shortening MRT at higher CH4.
Little is known about the extent to which aging trajectories of different body systems share common sources of variance. We here present a large twin study investigating the trajectories of change in five systems: cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, morphometric, and metabolic. Longitudinal clinical data were collected on 3,508 female twins in the TwinsUK registry (complete pairs:740 monozygotic (MZ), 986 dizygotic (DZ), mean age at entry 48.9 ± 10.4, range 18–75 years; mean follow-up 10.2 ± 2.8 years, range 4–17.8 years). Panel data on multiple age-related variables were used to estimate biological ages for each individual at each time point, in linear mixed effects models. A weighted average approach was used to combine variables within predefined body system groups. Aging trajectories for each system in each individual were then constructed using linear modeling. Multivariate structural equation modeling of these aging trajectories showed low genetic effects (heritability), ranging from 2% in metabolic aging to 22% in cardiovascular aging. However, we found a significant effect of shared environmental factors on the variations in aging trajectories in cardiovascular (54%), skeletal (34%), morphometric (53%), and metabolic systems (53%). The remainder was due to environmental factors unique to each individual plus error. Multivariate Cholesky decomposition showed that among aging trajectories for various body systems there were significant and substantial correlations between the unique environmental latent factors as well as shared environmental factors. However, there was no evidence for a single common factor for aging. This study, the first of its kind in aging, suggests that diverse organ systems share non-genetic sources of variance for aging trajectories. Confirmatory studies are needed using population-based twin cohorts and alternative methods of handling missing data.
TwinsUK is a nation-wide registry of volunteer twins in the United Kingdom, with about 12,000 registered twins (83% female, equal number of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, predominantly middle-aged and older). Over the last 20 years, questionnaire and blood/urine/tissue samples have been collected on over 7,000 subjects, as well as three comprehensive phenotyping assessments in the clinical facilities of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London. The primary focus of study has been the genetic basis of healthy aging process and complex diseases, including cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and ophthalmologic disorders. Alongside the detailed clinical, biochemical, behavioral, and socio-economic characterization of the study population, the major strength of TwinsUK is availability of several ‘omics’ technologies for the participants. These include genome-wide scans of single nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers (MeDIP sequencing), gene expression arrays and RNA sequencing, telomere length measures, metabolomic profiles, and gut flora microbiomics. The scientific community now can freely access parts of the phenotype data from the ‘TwinsUK’, and interested researchers are encouraged to contact us via our Web site (www.twinsuk.ac.uk) for future collaborations.
Strabismus represents a complex oculomotor disorder characterized by the deviation of one or both eyes and poor vision. A more sophisticated understanding of the genetic liability of strabismus is required to guide searches for associated molecular variants. In this classical twin study of 1,462 twin pairs, we examined the relative influence of genes and environment in comitant strabismus, and the degree to which these influences can be explained by factors in common with refractive error. Participants were examined for the presence of latent (‘phoria’) and manifest (‘tropia’) strabismus using cover–uncover and alternate cover tests. Two phenotypes were distinguished: eso-deviation (esophoria and esotropia) and exo-deviation (exophoria and exotropia). Structural equation modeling was subsequently employed to partition the observed phenotypic variation in the twin data into specific variance components. The prevalence of eso-deviation and exo-deviation was 8.6% and 20.7%, respectively. For eso-deviation, the polychoric correlation was significantly greater in monozygotic (MZ) (r = 0.65) compared to dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs (r = 0.33), suggesting a genetic role (p = .003). There was no significant difference in polychoric correlation between MZ (r = 0.55) and DZ twin pairs (r = 0.53) for exo-deviation (p = .86), implying that genetic factors do not play a significant role in the etiology of exo-deviation. The heritability of an eso-deviation was 0.64 (95% CI 0.50–0.75). The additive genetic correlation for eso-deviation and refractive error was 0.13 and the bivariate heritability (i.e., shared variance) was less than 1%, suggesting negligible shared genetic effect. This study documents a substantial heritability of 64% for eso-deviation, yet no corresponding heritability for exo-deviation, suggesting that the genetic contribution to strabismus may be specific to eso-deviation. Future studies are now needed to identify the genes associated with eso-deviation and unravel their mechanisms of action.
Pitfall trapping is a widely used sampling method for biodiversity-related research of ground-dwelling arthropods. The trap is a container, usually with a preservative, that is sunk into the ground to collect arthropods which happen upon the trap perimeter and fall in (Lemieux and Lindgren 1999; Work et al. 2002). Two types receive the most use: deep circular pitfall traps and shallow rectangular pan traps (Marshall et al. 2001). The preserving fluid can influence trap efficacy (Deville and Wheeler 1998). Our objectives were to compare the efficiency of pitfall and pan traps with and without detergent in the preserving fluid (Marshall et al. 1994), using carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Araneae) as focal taxa.
Visual impairment is a leading cause of morbidity and poor quality of life in our community. Unravelling the mechanisms underpinning important blinding diseases could allow preventative or curative steps to be implemented. Twin siblings provide a unique opportunity in biology to discover genes associated with numerous eye diseases and ocular biometry. Twins are particularly useful for quantitative trait analysis through genome-wide association and linkage studies. Although many studies involving twins rely on twin registries, we present our approach to the Twins Eye Study in Tasmania to provide insight into possible recruitment strategies, expected participation rates and potential examination strategies that can be considered by other researchers for similar studies. Five separate avenues for cohort recruitment were adopted: (1) piggy-backing existing studies where twins had been recruited, (2) utilizing the national twin registry, (3) word-of-mouth and local media publicity, (4) directly approaching schools, and finally (5) collaborating with other research groups studying twins.
The first classical twin studies, recognizing the potential of comparing findings in identical twins, have previously been reported to be those by Siemens and by Merriman, both published in 1924. However, we would like to bring to attention a study performed by Walter Jablonski, 2 years earlier (1922), investigating the contribution of heredity to refraction in human eyes. Jablonski examined the eyes of 52 twin pairs and by comparing the size of within-pair differences between identical and non- identical twins was able to infer the heritability of a trait. Therefore, this is likely to be the first reported classical twin study.