Sharon Landesman Ramey and Craig Ramey were recently named the City of Roanoke’s chief science officers for human development. The Rameys are both professors and distinguished research scholars at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke.

“Drs. Sharon and Craig Ramey have shared their experiences, talents, and time to improve the Roanoke community,” said Chris Morrill, the city manager of Roanoke who made the appointments. “I am pleased Drs. Craig and Sharon Ramey have agreed to take on this more formal role with the city as they continue to play a critical role in our community-building efforts.”

Morrill noted the contributions the Rameys have made to the Star City Reads program, which aims to help children read at grade level by the third grade. The program earned Roanoke an unprecedented sixth All-America City award and brought recognition as a national model. The Rameys wrote the Community Solutions Action Plan for the program.

Roanoke’s city council passed a resolution allowing the city manager to appoint the Rameys on May 2. In the resolution, many of the Rameys’ other contributions to Roanoke were mentioned, with a particular focus on how they’ve served as “a collaborative force in forming successful partnerships between the Roanoke City Public Schools, the Roanoke City Public Libraries, Total Action for Progress Head Start, Child Health Investment Partnerships, and the United Way of Roanoke to find school-specific academic and support programs for children in the City of Roanoke.”

The City of Roanoke School Board honored the Rameys for their achievements and contributions during its meeting on May 10.

The Rameys both study human development. Craig Ramey’s research program 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. He also uses both epidemiological and longitudinal datasets to provide a broad contextual framework for identifying the multiple, inter-related conditions that influence developmental factors.

“This is an exciting and unprecedented opportunity to share our scientific knowledge and to work collaboratively with the community to put this knowledge into practical programs to benefit children and families,” said Craig Ramey, who is also a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and human development at Virginia Tech, and a professor of pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Sharon Landesman Ramey’s research addresses three major areas of human development: the contribution of early experience, starting even prior to conception and extending through the prenatal and early postnatal periods, to later health, social-emotional, and intellectual development; the development and testing of highly promising treatments for children with disabilities and at-risk conditions; and how to improve the provision of health, education, and social services and strengthen natural community supports, to benefit children and families – the intersection between the new field of implementation science and public policy and opinion.

“We are deeply honored to serve in this new role. Roanoke is a dynamic city that is receptive to innovation and improvement – particularly to create greater equity in education, health, and employment outcomes across all neighborhoods,” said Landesman Ramey, who is also a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and human development at Virginia Tech, and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “Together, I think we can take science from the lab into our communities, and apply powerful data analytics to help drive informed decisions and wise investments in human capital.”

In their roles as chief science officers for human development, the Rameys will provide time and expertise in the areas of child and family development, data analysis, and community-based participatory partnerships. The goal is to help the city of Roanoke make great and rapid progress in improving children’s health and educational achievement from pre-school through high school and successful entry into the workforce, via high-quality vocational and college programs, including STEM programs that are expanding in the new Health Sciences and Technology Innovation District.

“We are delighted at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute that two of our leading faculty members are taking such a proactive role on providing their wisdom, expertise, and deep knowledge of human development to help make the citizens of Roanoke healthier,” said Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology, and the executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

Friedlander also noted that the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute considers active engagement that benefits the community of the utmost importance.  

 “Many of our researchers take their basic science laboratory work into the clinics, health and educational institutions of the community to do real world research, as well as to deliver newly developed best practices to our citizens,” Friedlander said. “It is an honor and a privilege for the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to be able to give back to the community that has supported it so much and to try to live Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).” 

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