Laurel Raffington

Leader of the Max Planck Research Group
Biosocial – Biology, Social Disparities, and Development


Phone: +49 30 82406-354


Since 2022: Research Group Leader MPRG Biosocial, MPI for Human Development
2019–2022: Postdoctoral researcher, University of Texas at Austin, Population Research Center
2018–2019: Postdoctoral researcher, MPI for Human Development, Center for Lifespan Psychology
2013-2018: Dr. rer. nat. (PhD) in Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, MPI for Human Development
2011–2013: MSc in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Freie Universität Berlin, Psychology
2007-2010: BSc in Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, School of Psychological Science

Research Interests:

Dr. Laurel Raffington’s research spans the fields of developmental psychology, public health, and genomics. Her research seeks to understand how systems of social inequality and genetically-influenced differences between people combine to shape differential outcomes of education, health, and well-being across the lifespan and across generations. The goal of Dr. Raffington‘s work is to reduce the effects of social inequality on child and adolescent well-being by identifying environmental factors that promote more equitable outcomes. Her current work follows three research streams:

  1. Analysis of longitudinal cohort studies and randomized trials to examine molecular pathways to social disparities in child and adolescent physical and psychological health and performance on cognitive tasks.
  2. Analysis of gene-environment interplay to identify environmental factors that can be modified to increase child well-being.
  3. Integrating genetic research into developmental science in an anti-racist framework.

Selected Literature:

  • Raffington, L., & Belsky, D.W. (2022). Integrating DNA-Methylation Measures of Biological Aging into Social Determinants of Health Research. Current Environmental Health Reports, 1-15.
  • Raffington, L., Malanchini, M., Grotzinger, A. D., Madole, J. W., Engelhardt, L., Sabhlok, A., Youn, C., Patterson, M. W., Harden, P. K., & Tucker-Drob, E. M. (2022). A novel stressful environment evokes unique genetic variation in child cortisol output. Developmental Psychology, in press.
  • Raffington, L., Belsky, D. W., Kothari, M., Malanchini, M., Tucker-Drob, E. M., & Harden, K. P. (2021). Socioeconomic disadvantage and the pace of biological aging in children. Pediatrics, 147(6).
  • Raffington, L., Mallard, T., & Harden, P. K.  (2020). Polygenic scores in developmental psychology: Invite genetics in, leave biodeterminism behind. Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, 2(1), 389-411.
  • Raffington, L., Czamara, D., Mohn, J. J., Falck, J., Schmoll, V., Heim, C. H., Binder, E. B., & Shing, Y. L. (2019). Stable longitudinal associations of family income with children’s hippocampal volume and memory persist after controlling for polygenic scores of educational attainment. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 40, 100720.
  • Raffington, L., Prindle, J. & Shing, Y. L. (2018). Income gains predict cognitive functioning longitudinally throughout later childhood in poor children. Developmental Psychology, 54(7), 1232-1243.
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