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Why twins differ: what it means for us

Thursday 26th March 2015 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00


Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, Kings College London

Twenty years of research with twins reveals the subtle interplay between nature and nurture, our genes and our environment.

 

 

This lecture is about how minor life events and the choices we make, as well as those made by our ancestors, fuse with our inherited genes to mould us into individuals.

What makes you so different to your siblings? Why do you vote a certain way, remain faithful for twenty years, believe in God, love salads, be heterosexual, get cancer or depression, dislike sport or never put on weight?

Using fascinating case studies of twins, Professor Tim Spector draws gems from his exhaustive research project that has spanned twenty years to show how even real-life ‘clones’ with the same upbringing turn out in reality to be very different. Based on cutting-edge discoveries that are pushing the frontiers of our knowledge of genetics, he shows us that – contrary to recent scientific teaching – nothing is completely hard-wired or pre-ordained.

Challenging, enlightening and entertaining, Professor Spector explains theories such as why the Dutch have become the tallest nation in the world, why autism is more heritable than breast cancer and what could cause a fit and healthy man to have a heart attack within weeks of his overweight, heavy drinking, heavy smoking identical twin.

Conceptually, he argues, we are not just skin and bones controlled by our genes but minds and bodies made of plastic. This plastic is dynamic – slowly changing shape and evolving, driven by many processes we still cannot comprehend. Many of the subtle differences between us appear now to be due to chance or fate, but as science rapidly evolves and explains current mysteries we will be able to become more active participants in this human moulding process. Then we can really begin to understand why we are who we are and what makes each of us so unique and quintessentially human.

Tim Spector is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College, London & Director of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.

He founded the UK Twins Registry of 11,000 twins in 1993, which is one of the largest collections of genotype and phenotype information on twins worldwide. Its breadth of research has expanded to cover a wide range of common complex traits many of which were previously thought to be mainly due to ageing and environment. He has published over 400 research articles on common diseases.

He has written several original articles on the heritability of a wide range of diseases and traits including back pain, acne, inflammation, obesity, memory, musical ability and sexuality. He is principal investigator of the EU Euroclot and Treat OA study, and a partner in five others. He has written several books, focusing on osteoporosis and genetics and in 2003 he published a popular book on genetics ‘Your Genes Unzipped’.

Optionally followed by supper (this can be booked on the event booking form).
After the lecture a Friends' Table has been reserved at a local restaurant to entertain the speaker and for any of the audience who would like to join us to continue the evening's discussion. A two-course fixed price supper is served including wine, coffee and service charge.
Or if you have already booked for the event and now want to join us for supper Book Supper now

Venue: SAF Building, Imperial College London

Campus Map reference 33
on the Imperial College London Map