All posts by Ally Avery

Cohort Profile: TWINS study of environment, lifestyle behaviours and health.

Duncan GE, Avery A, Hurvitz PM, Moudon AV, Tsang S, Turkheimer E.

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Sleep Duration and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: A Twin Study.

McCall CA, Turkheimer E, Tsang S, Avery A, Duncan GE, Watson NF.

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The CODATwins Project: The Current Status and Recent Findings of COllaborative Project of Development of Anthropometrical Measures in Twins.

Silventoinen K, Jelenkovic A, Yokoyama Y, Sund R, Sugawara M, Tanaka M, Matsumoto S, Bogl LH, Freitas DL, Maia JA, Hjelmborg JVB, Aaltonen S, Piirtola M, Latvala A, Calais-Ferreira L, Oliveira VC, Ferreira PH, Ji F, Ning F, Pang Z, Ordoñana JR, Sánchez-Romera JF, Colodro-Conde L, Burt SA, Klump KL, Martin NG, Medland SE, Montgomery GW, Kandler C, McAdams TA, Eley TC, Gregory AM, Saudino KJ, Dubois L, Boivin M, Brendgen M, Dionne G, Vitaro F, Tarnoki AD, Tarnoki DL, Haworth CMA, Plomin R, Öncel SY, Aliev F, Medda E, Nisticò L, Toccaceli V, Craig JM, Saffery R, Siribaddana SH, Hotopf M, Sumathipala A, Rijsdijk F, Jeong HU, Spector T, Mangino M, Lachance G, Gatz M, Butler DA, Gao W, Yu C, Li L, Bayasgalan G, Narandalai D, Harden KP, Tucker-Drob EM, Christensen K, Skytthe A, Kyvik KO, Derom CA, Vlietinck RF, Loos RJF, Cozen W, Hwang AE, Mack TM, He M, Ding X, Silberg JL, Maes HH, Cutler TL, Hopper JL, Magnusson PKE, Pedersen NL, Dahl Aslan AK, Baker LA, Tuvblad C, Bjerregaard-Andersen M, Beck-Nielsen H, Sodemann M, Ullemar V, Almqvist C, Tan Q, Zhang D, Swan GE, Krasnow R, Jang KL, Knafo-Noam A, Mankuta D, Abramson L, Lichtenstein P, Krueger RF, McGue M, Pahlen S, Tynelius P, Rasmussen F, Duncan GE, Buchwald D, Corley RP, Huibregtse BM, Nelson TL, Whitfield KE, Franz CE, Kremen WS, Lyons MJ, Ooki S, Brandt I, Nilsen TS, Harris JR, Sung J, Park HA, Lee J, Lee SJ, Willemsen G, Bartels M, van Beijsterveldt CEM, Llewellyn CH, Fisher A, Rebato E, Busjahn A, Tomizawa R, Inui F, Watanabe M, Honda C, Sakai N, Hur YM, Sørensen TIA, Boomsma DI, Kaprio J.

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Probabilistic walking models using built environment and sociodemographic predictors

Moudon AV, Huang R, Stewart OT, Cohen-Cline H, Noonan C, Hurvitz PM, Duncan GE.

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Salience network connectivity is reduced by a meal and influenced by genetic background and hypothalamic gliosis.

Sewaybricker LE, Melhorn SJ, Askren MK, Webb MF, Tyagi V, De Leon MRB, Grabowski TJ, Seeley WW, Schur EA.

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A twin study of genetic influences on nephrolithiasis in women and men.

Goldfarb DS, Avery AR, Beara-Lasic L, Duncan GE, Goldberg J.

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Viral genetics modulate orolabial HSV-1 shedding in humans.

Ramchandani MS, Jing L, Russell RM, Tran T, Laing KJ, Magaret AS, Selke S, Cheng A, Huang ML, Xie H, Strachan E, Greninger AL, Roychoudhury P, Jerome KR, Wald A, Koelle DM.

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The Genetics and Epigenetics of Healthy Aging in Twins

Aging is complex process, involving both genetic and non-genetic factors.  Genetics contribute to the rate of change for bodily functions and risk of disease, but these changes can also be influenced by the environment. The goal of this study was to learn more about the genes that are related to healthy aging, and how the aging process is influenced by environmental factors. By looking at genetic information, physical condition, family history, medical history, and life experiences across participants, researchers may be able to determine how these factors work together to create the overall aging experience.

This study collected data from 2013 to 2014. 275 same-sex twins 65 and older participated, with more of a focus on fraternal twins. The average age of participants in this study was 75, and the oldest participants were 91. All data collection was completed at home. Twins completed a packet of questionnaires, provided a saliva sample, and provided a small sample of blood collected by a finger stick.

Published research from this study

Study of Air Pollution in Twins (R33 phase)

This study seeks to understand how the environment influences our health by using a new device (the Portable Particle Monitor, PUWPM) that measures toxins in the environment, which was built and tested during the first phase of this study. These toxins include air pollution, noise, and allergens.

Exposure to particle pollution can result in increased hospital admissions, emergency room visits, absences from school or work, and restricted activity days, especially for those with pre-existing heart or lung disease, older people, and children. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Fine particles (PM2.5) pose the greatest health risk. The following is an example of what we are able to observe from collected data. Both maps show a morning walk in the summer. However, the walk on the right took place after major forest fires had broken out in the greater Pacific Northwest area. We can see that the PM2.5 this individual was exposed to was much lower before the fires broke out (map on left). By comparing twins, we can better understand how exposures to toxins in the unique environment may influence health.

Identical twins living apart within the State of Washington will be considered for this study. Eligible pairs will come to the Roosevelt Clinic in the University District of Seattle to receive the study materials. The study coordinator will record vital measurements and conduct a spirometry (lung function) test. At the end of the visit, participants will have their blood drawn. Biological specimens will be used to measure the amount of inflammation in the body, which may be related to environmental exposures. Data is then collected at home for two weeks. Participants will carry a GPS and wear an activity monitor that is similar to a pedometer or a Fitbit, as well as carry the PUWPM from the time they wake up until they go to sleep at night. They will also complete questionnaires. At the end of the two-week period, everything is returned to the study coordinator in a prepaid FedEx box.

Physical Activity in Twins (PAT) follow-up study

This study continues on work conducted from 2012-15 exploring the role of the built environment in supporting healthy lifestyles. The built environment is defined as human-made surroundings, such as buildings, streets, and transportation systems, which support or hinder human activity. Although this topic has gained increasing attention from many researchers over the last several years, the influence of the environment on behaviors and health is not fully understood.

In this follow-up study, twin pairs who participated in the PAT study are contacted to participate in one week of follow-up data collection. All data collection is done entirely at home, and participants do not have to live within the Puget Sound to be eligible. Participants wear a GPS and an activity monitor, and complete questionnaires.

Familial factors predicting recovery and maintenance of physical activity in people with low back pain: insights from a population-based twin study.

Zadro JR, Shirley D, Duncan GE, Ferreira PH.

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Usability of a Personal Air Pollution Monitor: Design-Feedback Iterative Cycle Study.

Duncan GE, Seto E, Avery AR, Oie M, Carvlin G, Austin E, Shirai JH, He J, Ockerman B, Novosselov I.

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Hypothalamic Gliosis by MRI and Visceral Fat Mass Negatively Correlate with Plasma Testosterone Concentrations in Healthy Men.

Berkseth KE, Rubinow KB, Melhorn SJ, Webb MF, De Leon MRB, Marck BT, Matsumoto AM, Amory JK, Page ST, Schur EA.

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Study Design and Rationale for the Mood and Methylation Study: A Platform for Multi-Omics Investigation of Depression in Twins.

Strachan E, Zhao J, Roy-Byrne PP, Fowler E, Bacus T.

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DNA methylation associated with healthy aging of elderly twins.

Kim S, Wyckoff J, Morris AT, Succop A, Avery A, Duncan GE, Michal Jazwinski S.

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Thank You!

Thanks to the support and participation of our members, we are one of the largest active registries in the world! We’d like to make sure we have the most up-to-date contact information for you. If both you and your twin update your contact information, you’ll be entered into a raffle for an Ancestry kit from 23andme, which can tell you if you and your twin are identical or fraternal. Please click here to update your contact information by November 28th, 2018 to be considered for the drawing. We will randomly choose 5 pairs of twins as winners on or around December 3, 2018. Thank you again for your continued participation in the Washington State Twin Registry!


Didn’t receive a sticker in the mail? Please send us an email and let us know and we’ll get one out to you as soon as possible. Please note that we are only sending them to registered WSTR members at this time.

Interested in joining the Twin Registry? Click here for information!

Gene Expression and the Microbiome in Twins (GEMsTone)

Cells in the human body contain DNA. Each cell expresses, or turns on, a fraction of its genes in a process known as gene regulation. Genes can be expressed depending on your genetic history, your lifestyle, and your environment. Microbes are very small life forms such as bacteria that exist on or in the human body. The human microbiome is the full collection of genes of all of the microbes. In this study, we are interested in learning more about the relationship between your genes and your microbiome. The gut microbiome changes over time, but can also change when your diet changes or when your health in general changes. As a twin and a member of the WSTR, you can make a unique contribution to understanding the relationship between the gut microbiome and gene expression.

Eligible twin pairs are sent the collection materials to collect data at home. Data collection materials include three questionnaires, measuring waist circumference, using a soft brush to collect buccal (cheek) cells for epigenetic analysis, and collecting a stool sample for the gut microbiome analysis.