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Lynette Walker (ATR)

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Liz Banks-Anderson (Media office)

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Identical twins can have very different lives and health despite their shared genes, according to UK expert Professor Tim Spector from London’s King College, who will speak at a public forum at the University of Melbourne.

At the forum Twins: changing the future of genetics, hosted by the Australian Twin Registry, based at the University of Melbourne, Professor Spector will question how genes shape our personal characteristics, health and identity.

He says that even genetically identical twins can be very different, and we can learn much about diseases and our own health by understanding similarities and differences between twins.

"Today, as a result of twin research in Australia, we better understand environmental and genetic factors in conditions such as obesity, epilepsy, cancer, childhood learning and behaviour, osteoporosis and mental health," said John Hopper, Director of the Australian Twin Registry and Professor at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Spector says twins show us that we are not captive to our genes. Instead, 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 with our own health identity.

He explains theories on what makes you so different to your siblings - why do you vote a certain way, love salads, get cancer or depression, dislike sport or never put on weight? 

“We are not just skin and bones controlled by our genes, but evolving minds and bodies slowly changing shape, driven by many processes we still cannot comprehend,” he says.  

“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.”

The forum will detail the latest cutting-edge genetic discoveries, show the vital role of twins in research through case studies, how your genes change over time and how this shapes your health and identity.

Date: Thursday 28 November 2013 (entry from 9.45am)
Public Forum: 10.00 – 11.00am

Media Call: 11.00am – 12.00pm, meet outside Theatre 1. 

Where: Theatre 1, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton