The origins of Twins Research Australia lay in a meeting held in Miami, Florida, in 1973 attended by two researchers, Richard Lovell of the University of Melbourne and Michael Hobbs of the University of Western Australia.
The two were introduced to a study with twins looking at the impact of smoking on mortality. Inspired by this research, the Australians returned home believing that the establishment of an Australian twin registry would provide a vital research tool for medical science here.
Over the coming few years, several state registries were established, including the Victorian Twin Registry at the University of Melbourne by researcher, Professor John Mathews.
But it wasn’t until 1981 that the state-based registries joined forces to establish the Australian NHMRC Twin Registry funded by the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council.
Based at the University of Melbourne under Director John Mathews, the new registry’s first major initiative was a questionnaire sent to 4000 twins gathering demographic and general health information. The responses received have since formed the basis of a large number of registry-based projects.
1990 saw the appointment of Professor John Hopper as Director, a role that he continues in to this day. In 2013, HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, herself a mother of twins, became International Patron.
Australia’s only national twin registry has endured and grown stronger, culminating with its naming in 2016 as a National Centre of Excellence in Twin Research by the NHMRC.
When the world faced an unprecedented pandemic in 2020, TRA quickly mobilised a series of ongoing studies on the pandemic’s impact on Australian families. It demonstrated the power of twin research as a vital tool in times of health emergencies.
In 2021, TRA is celebrating 40 years of life-changing research! This timeline highlights the major milestones across our history only made possible with the incredible support of our members, researchers and partners. Our heart-felt thanks go to each and every one.
Explore the evolution of our organisation’s name: Australian NHMRC Twin Registry (1981-1998), Australian Twin Registry (1999-2016) to Twins Research Australia (since 2017).