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PlexusCalls: Quality Childhood Programs Boost Adult Health Guests: James Heckman, Gabriella Conti, and Ruth Perry – Friday, August 22nd, 2014 – 1-2PM ET



A growing body of evidence suggests early childhood adversity echoes throughout lifetimes in terms of diminished educational and economic outcomes. Researchers have also found that can change -and that high quality early interventions impact adult health in surprising ways. Data from the North Carolina Abecedarian Project started in 1972 shows adults who received educational, medical and nutritional support from infancy through age 5 have less high blood pressure, less obesity, and lower incidence of chronic diseases than peers who were not part of the intervention.

James Heckman, a Nobel laureate in economics and University of Chicago professor, led the data analysis. He and health economist Gabriella Conti are coauthors of Science Magazine article detailing results of the study.

James J. Heckman, PhD, is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and an expert in the economics of human development. His groundbreaking work with a consortium of economists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and neuroscientists has proven that the quality of early childhood development heavily influences health, economic and social outcomes for individuals and society at large. Heckman has proven that there are great economic gains to be had by investing in the early childhood development. Professor Heckman received his BA in mathematics from Colorado College in 1965 and his PhD in economics from Princeton University in 1971. He directs the university’s Economics Research Center and the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School. He is the Professor of Science and Society at University College Dublin and a Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. His recent research focuses on human development and lifecycle skill formation, with a special emphasis on the economics of early childhood development. His research has given policymakers important new insights into such areas as education, job-training programs, minimum-wage legislation, anti-discrimination law, social supports and civil rights. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Labor Economics, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, the Society of Labor Economics, and the American Statistical Association.

Gabriella Conti, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Health Research School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University College London. She is also research associate at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, London, a fellow at the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, and Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research Children and Health Economic Programs, in the UK. She is Research Affiliate at the Population Research Center at the University of Chicago, where she was also an assistant professor. She was a visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Center for Health and Wellbeing. She earned her PhD in economics at the University of Essex in the UK. Dr. Conti’s extensive work on early family environment, adolescent social skills and adult earnings has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other publications the US and abroad. Her study in the health effects of early life adversity in rhesus monkeys has been featured in Time. She has also written and coauthored dozens of peer reviewed scholarly articles.

Ruth Perry, MD, is Executive Director of the Trenton Health Team, a community health collaborative serving Trenton, NJ. As an emergency room physician in Philadelphia, Dr. Ruth Perry saw patients return often for minor ailments that just needed a doctor as well as for chronic illnesses that weren’t managed effectively. As executive director of the Trenton Health Team, she blends her physician background with corporate leadership experience to confront the health and wellness challenges of Trenton’s neediest residents and ensure better care. With a BA from Swarthmore College and MD degree from Temple University, Dr. Perry spent seven years working at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. After the birth of two daughters, she left the hospital for the chemical manufacturing company Rohm and Haas, where she remained for more than 15 years, focusing on product safety, implementation of best practices and change management. At THT Dr. Perry has established the organization’s infrastructure and implemented changes that have already begun to improve lives. Outside of work, she is a gifted musician, photographer and gardener. She plans to use her music talent to help the Trenton community. A classical pianist who also sings in the choir of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, Dr. Perry hopes to use the arts to engage the homeless. One of her ideas is to perform in soup kitchens.

About the Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city’s major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city’s Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city’s active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city’s fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city. THT aims to make Trenton the healthiest city in the state. Support for the Trenton Health Team was provided in part by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation. For more information, visit