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For Twins

Genes, Environments, and Families

Genes come in many shapes and sizes

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Some genes, like the ones that determine your eye color, are just like the genes that Gregor Mendel studied with his work on peapods. If you have the gene, you get the outcome.

For most diseases and behaviors in people, however, genes have much smaller effects. These genes do not "cause" or "determine" human health or behavior, but they can influence them.

Finding Genetic Effects in Family Members

Brothers and sisters who grow up in the same family not only share environments, but they may also share some of their genes. Specific family study approaches, such as research using children of twins, may help to clarify the difference between a person’s genetic makeup and his or her environment. Environmental and genetic factors work together to produce the individual differences between family members, which allows brothers and sister to differ from each other.

Research on Genetic Effects in Families

Researchers sometimes understand genes and environments by studying identical twins, fraternal twins and adopted children. An example of this kind of work is being done by Dr. Stephen Petrill and his colleagues at The Ohio State University.

Today, two of the biggest hurdles in genetics research are the abundance of genetic material within each person and the complexity of human health and behavior. The same genes can also work differently depending on the environment and where they are in the body.

Need help with your science project?

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We greatly value the time our families spend participating in the research study, and hope that we can serve as a valuable resource to our twins whenever possible. To achieve that, we are more than willing to assist our twin participants with any science projects or class assignments they may need help with. If you are interested in speaking with a staff member in our lab about a school project, and would like to get some help, please call us at 1-866-258-8411. You may also email us at wrrp@osu.edu.

Check out these FUN education and science websites!