Data from the MSUTR are generating new information via analysis of archival data and new data collections.  The MSUTR has been used for projects in laboratories at MSU, other institutions across the country, and even internationally. Researchers have investigated a wide array of topics including: ADHD, brain development, hypertension and anxiety.

There currently are several projects making good use of the MSUTR in their research programs:

Genetic and hormonal influences on mood and behavior (MSU Dept. of Psychology)

Dr. Kelly Klump and colleagues are using MSUTR data to examine the influence of hormonal, genetic, and environmental factors on a range of psychological characteristics (e.g., mood, eating attitudes and behaviors, personality characteristics) during puberty and across the menstrual cycle.  One aim of Dr. Klump's research is to determine whether associations between ovarian hormones, mood, and behavior are influenced by genes.

Klump, K.L., Culbert, K.M., Slane, J.D., Burt, S.A., Sisk, C.L., & Nigg, J.T. (2012). The effects of puberty on genetic risk for disordered eating: Evidence for a sex difference. Psychological Medicine, 42(3), 627-637.   (Full Article)

Gene-environment interactions in behavioral and emotional development during childhood (MSU Dept. of Psychology)

Dr. S. Alexandra Burt and colleagues recruited MSUTR twins to examine the role environmental risk factors (such as peer pressure, etc.) may play in increasing acting-out behaviors and depressed mood during childhood.  Not every child who is exposed to these risk factors goes on to engage in these behaviors, and one possible explanation is that environmental risk may interact with genetic predispositions to increase these behaviors.  Dr. Burt's research focuses on the investigation of such possibilities.

Burt, S.A., & Klump, K.L. (2013). Delinquent peer affiliation as an etiological moderator of childhood delinquency. Psychological Medicine, 43(6), 1269-1278.  (Abstract)

The etiology of cerebral palsy (MSU Dept. of Epidemiology)

The OWL (Outcomes, Wellness and Life course in Cerebral Palsy) project directed by Dr. Nigel Paneth in the Department of Epidemiology at MSU recruited twin pairs from the MSUTR to study the origins of cerebral palsy.  A particular interest was in twins discordant for cerebral palsy, which is the case for nearly 90% of twin pairs.

Changes in personality across adolescence (MSU Dept. of Psychology)

Dr. Christopher Hopwood’s lab in the Department of Psychology at MSU collected longitudinal, pilot data from adolescent twins recruited from the MSUTR for a study on the etiological influences on stability and change in different features of personality, including traits, disorders, and self-narratives.

Psychophysiological markers of anxiety (MSU Dept. of Psychology)

Dr. Jason Moser’s Clinical Psychophysiology Lab in the Department of Psychology at MSU collected pilot data from late adolescent/early adult female twins recruited from the MSUTR for a study of genetic and environmental factors influencing anxiety and brain activity.

codatwins project (university of helsinki)

Dr. Karri Silventoinen & Dr. Jaakko Kaprio of the University of Helsinki are using archival MSUTR data to assess the heritability of height and weight in relation to education and smoking status by combining collected data on these variables from twin registries throughout the world.

Silventoinen K., et al. (2015). The CODATwins Project: The cohort description of collaborative project of development of anthropometrical measures in twins to study macro-environmental variation in genetic and environmental effects on anthropometric traits. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 18(4), 348-360. (Full Article)

Sleep problems (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

Dr. Melisa Moore with the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia used MSUTR data to investigate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to adolescent and preadolescent sleep problems. While both genetic and environmental influences appeared to be important to adolescent sleep problems, environmental factors made a larger contribution than genetic factors, highlighting the importance of targeting modifiable environmental factors when treating adolescents with sleep problems.

Moore, M., Slane, J., Mindell, J.A., Burt, S.A., & Klump, K.L. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on sleep problems: A study of preadolescent and adolescent twins. Child: Care, Health and Development, 37, 638–641.  (Full Article) 

Michigan Twin Neurogentics Study (University of Michigan)

Dr. Luke Hyde's Michigan Neurogenetics and Developmental Psychopathology Lab at the University of Michigan is recruiting MSUTR twins to investigate brain and behavior development in a sample of twins by examining gene-environment interactions to understand how behavior differences emerge.

attention (Oregon health & science university)

Dr. Joel Nigg with Oregon Health & Science University is recruiting MSUTR twins to examine the relationship between DNA methylation and attention, higher cognition, and self-regulation.

nonparametric methodology (western michigan university)

Dr. Jeffrey Terpstra with Western Michigan University is using archival MSUTR data from adult twins to study nonparametric methodology for incomplete multivariate data.

fetal testosterone exposure and externalizing (university of south florida)

Dr. Marina Bornovalova and doctoral candidate Troy Webber are using archival MSUTR data to investigate the relationship between exposure to fetal testosterone and externalizing behavior.

Genetic influences on physical activity (MSU Dept. of Kinesiology)

Dr. James Pivarnik’s lab in the Department of Kinesiology at MSU investigated genetic and environmental influences on body fatness and physical activity (PA), using male and female adolescent twins drawn from the MSUTR.  Body fatness was found to be influenced by genetic effects for males and females, while physical activity was influenced solely by environmental effects for both sexes.  These results indicate that, when developing interventions to increase PA in adolescents, it is important to consider the environment in which it takes place.  

Kuffel, E.E., Klump, K.L., Burt, S.A., & Pivarnik, J.M. (2009). A description of adolescent twins' body composition and physical activity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41 (Supplement), S507.

influenza vaccination (msu dept. of  Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics)

Dr. George Mias' Lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics recruited MSUTR twins for a study of influenza vaccination response in asthmatic and non-asthmatic individuals.


Dr. Moriah Thomason's SCANLab at Wayne State University is collaborating with Dr. Burt's lab on a study of the effects of prenatal toxicant exposure on behavior and development.

Young Children's Executive Functioning (Wayne State University)

Dr. Christopher Trentacosta's Family Emotion Lab at Wayne State University recruited MSUTR twins to investigate the development of executive functioning (EF) in children ages 3-5 years old.  Executive functioning includes working memory, attention control, and the ability to regulate one’s own behavior, and it has been linked to future developmental outcomes and academic performance.

epigenetics of Hypertension (MSU College of Human Medicine and Medical College of Wisconsin)

Dr. Ralph Watson and Dr. Supratik Rayamajhi with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Dr. Srividya Kidambi with the Medical College of Wisconsin are recruiting MSUTR twins to study genetic contributions to the development of hypertension.  Of particular interest is the relationship between DNA methylation and hypertension.

Stuttering (university of Michigan)

Dr. Soo-Eun Chang of the University of Michigan is currently recruiting MSUTR twins to examine behavioral and brain development trajectories that lead to persistent forms of stuttering.

adhd and conduct disorder (university of iowa)

Dr. Molly Nikolas' Iowa ADHD and Development Lab at the University of Iowa is using archival MSUTR data to study the covariation of ADHD and Conduct Disorder.


If you would be interested in collaborating with the MSUTR for your research, please contact the MSUTR at, or either of the MSUTR Directors: Dr. S. Alexandra Burt ( and Dr. Kelly Klump (