Twin researcher Russell Keast’s love of food led to a career as a chef and then a food scientist.
A Kiwi by birth, Russell trained as a chef with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, discovering his passion for food and health.
He went on to study food science, nutrition and flavour at university. Today, he is an associate professor, lecturer and researcher at Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Health in Melbourne.
He specialises in ‘sensory science’, a recent field of research that investigates how individual differences in chemical senses (taste, smell, sensitivity) influence health.
It is in this latter area of research that Russell first enlisted the help of twins.
“I initially came across twins involved in research when I was working at a food sensory laboratory in the USA. The lab supported the Twinsburg Twins Festival, the biggest annual gathering of twins in the world,” he explains.
“When I came to Australia, I heard about the Australian Twin Registry and talked to them about how twins might contribute to my research into fatty acid taste and obesity.”
Since 2009, Russell has involved ATR twins in his research at Deakin University into why some people crave fatty food more than others, and the link to weight gain and obesity.
A crucial finding was that some people are less sensitive to the taste of fat. This may lead to them consuming more fat and weight gain. He is now launching a new twins study to better understand the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors in consuming fat.
“Twins are an incredibly valuable and unique arm of health research,” he says. “They participate as volunteers, and they understand and are dedicated to the important role they have in research.
“In my own work, I could not have achieved what I have today without the support of twins. They have provided great insights into genes versus the environment in my research that otherwise would not have been available.”
If you would like to support Russell’s research, identical and non-identical twins are needed for his latest study. Find out more here or freecall 1800-037-021.
Twins are an incredibly valuable and unique arm of health research. They participate as volunteers, and they understand and are dedicated to the important role they have in research.
Photo: Twin researcher, Associate Professor Russell Keast, undertakes taste testing with ATR twin ambassadors, Laura and Emily Sayers.