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Craig Ramey, Ph.D.

Craig Ramey, Ph.D.

Research Professor and Distinguished Research Scholar

Craig Ramey Ph.D. headshot

Craig Ramey and the Abecedarian Project

The Abecedarian Approach to Healthy Development

The Abecedarian Approach is a set of early education strategies for the child’s first 5 years of life. It guides adults in effective and positive interactions with the child that support the components of healthy development. 


“There is nothing more important than bringing forth the full human potential of each and every child by applying all of our scientific knowledge."

Forging a new frontier in human developmental science

How can implementation science help health practicioners and policymakers? 

Craig Ramey’s program of research centers on the role of experience – across the human lifespan - in the development of competence and robust health. His approach relies largely on experimental interventions in education, psychology, and pediatrics that provide rigorous tests of plausible developmental mechanisms of stability and change within dynamic, multilayered ecologies. In addition, he engages both epidemiological and longitudinal datasets to provide a broad contextual framework for identifying the multiple, inter-related conditions that influence biopsychosocial risk, protective, and facilitating factors.

Ramey’s research findings are highly relevant to many national and international policy issues. Accordingly, he has extended his research into topics that address “going-to-scale” and rapid application of scientific findings that can prevent disabilities, promote children’s education and health outcomes, and improve family and community well being. This new field of “implementation science” represents a new frontier for the neurosciences and for educating health practitioners and policymakers. As Ramey says, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute affords him a unique opportunity to pursue his research interests in collaboration with scientists, scholars, and practitioners who themselves are challenging old paradigms and forging a new frontier in human developmental science.

  • Research Professor and Distinguished Research Scholar of Human Development, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Research Professor, Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience, College of Science
  • Research Professor, Department of Human Development, College of Liberal Arts and Human Science, Virginia Tech
  • Research Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

Luo Y, Hétu S, Lohrenz T, Hula A, Dayan P, Ramey SL, Sonnier-Netto L, Lisinski J, LaConte S, Nolte T, Fonagy P, Rahmani E, Montague PR, Ramey C. (2018). Early childhood investment impacts social decision-making four decades later. Nature Communications 9(1): 4705.

Ramey, C.T. (2018). The Abecedarian Approach to Social, Educational, and Health Disparities. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 21: 527-544.

Bickel WK, Moody L, Quisenberry AJ, Ramey CT, Sheffer CE. (2014). A competing neurobehavioral decision systems model of SES-related health and behavioral disparities. Preventative Medicine 68: 37-43.

Georgetown University
Founding Director, Georgetown University Center on Health and Education
Distinguished Professor, Health Studies and Psychiatry

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Founding Director, Civitan International Research Center
University Professor of Psychology, Pediatrics, Sociology, Nursing, Maternal and Child Health, and Neurobiology
Director, Alabama's University Affiliated Program for Developmental Disabilities
Director, Developmental Psychology Graduate Training Program

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Director of Research, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center
Professor, Departments of Psychology and Pediatrics

  • University of California Berkeley: Postdoctoral fellowship, Human Development
  • West Virginia University: Ph.D., Life Span Developmental Psychology
  • West Virginia University: M.A., Psychology
  • University of Southern California: Research Fellow, Aging and Development
  • West Virginia Psychology: B.A., Psychology
  • LEAD Virginia Class of 2015
  • Invited Martin Luther King Campus-Wide Address, 2015
  • United Way of Roanoke Valley Community Impact Award, 2015
  • Fordham University Excellence in Early Childhood Award, 2013
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science, 2013
  • Scholar of the Week, Virginia Tech, 2012
  • Society for Research in Child Development Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children, 2007
  • Chair (elected), National Board for Education Sciences, Institute of Education Services, U.S. Department of Education (Presidential nomination, U.S. Senate confirmation), 2007-2008
  • Member, National Board for Education Sciences, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (Presidential nomination, U.S. Senate confirmation), 2006-2007
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Hall of Honor Inductee, “For leading the research effort to document the effectiveness of environmental enrichment as an early intervention to improve outcomes for children at high risk for developmental and intellectual disabilities due to socio-cultural circumstances," 2003
  • Senator Howell Heflin Award for Statesmanship in World Health and Education, 2000
  • Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction, 2000
  • Career Scientist Award, The Academy on Mental Retardation, 1999
  • Rose and Al Pastor Distinguished Lecture, Children's Hospital of Buffalo, N.Y., 1999
  • Gold Award, National Parenting Publication Award for Parenting Resources for Right From Birth: Building your Child's Foundation for Life, 1999
  • Marie Robert Fisher Distinguished Professor, University of North Texas, 1999
  • Chautauqua Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Developmental Disabilities, 1997
  • Theodore Tjossem Memorial Lecture, University of Washington, 1994
  • Administration for Children, Youth and Families Award for Contributions to Head Start Research and Evaluation, 1991

The Abecedarian Project

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