Ramin (who uses the unhyphenated last name “Jakobson Ramin,”) was born in New York City. She graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1974, then went on to earn a B.A. in theater and psychology from Tufts University in 1978.
Ramin remained in Boston after college. She began her career as a writer and photographer at a monthly tabloid trade journal, The New England Fashion Retailer, starting in 1979. She then worked as an assistant editor at Inc. Magazine until 1980, when she moved to Manhattan. In New York she worked as a writer and editor for Barron's and Money, and freelanced for New York Magazine and The New York Times Magazine, among many others. On a trip to Los Angeles to report a story, she met Ron Ramin, a composer for television and movies. She moved to LA in 1987, and she and Ron Ramin were married in 1988. In 1998, the family moved to northern California with their two sons.
At Tufts Ramin initially aspired to a career as a theater director, but she soon discovered a talent and passion for writing and reporting. She was hired by Inc. Magazine in Boston to write and edit a section of the magazine called "Ideas You Can Use," but soon transitioned to writing feature stories.
After she returned to New York City in 1981, she worked for Money magazine and then for Barron's, as a writer and editor. She also contributed articles to many other consumer magazines. Her most well known piece from that period is a 1986 cover story for New York Magazine called “The New Orthodox.”
In Los Angeles, she wrote features for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and a biweekly column for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. The column, called "Connecting" in a pre-Internet era, explored issues affecting the personal lives of people in that city. During this period, Ramin began develop the accessible and humorous narrative style that would come to be her trademark. In 2004, she published “In Search of Lost Time,” in The New York Times Magazine, a prequel to her book on memory and attention. In 2006, she published “Valley of the Dulls,” an article about the adverse cognitive effects of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs in O, the Oprah Magazine. In 2013, after receiving a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, she published a groundbreaking investigative report on the drug compounding industry, “The Hormone Hoax” in More (magazine), which has helped alter public policy in the field of women's health.
Career as an author
Ramin's first book, Carved in Sand, is about what happens to the brain in middle age. She chose to address this topic because in her 40s, she observed changes in her own memory that concerned her. Her investigative reporting skills helped her delve into the field of cognitive neuroscience, psychology and neurobiology and to write a book that critics and authors have praised as "enjoyable [and] highly informative" (Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Spook), "a frank examination of a near-universal disability" (Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon), "an enlightening and rather reassuring book on fading memory in midlife" (Jane Brody, writer for The New York Times), and, as author David Shenk of The Forgetting puts it, "a book for our time - a book about decline, how to face it, respect it, and fight back. On our behalf, Ramin courageously navigates the baffling limbo between 'normal' and 'disease.'" The book first appeared on The New York Times bestseller list in April 2007, and was ranked number 5 on Amazon within a week of its publication. Ramin appeared for two consecutive features on Good Morning America. She was also interviewed on Talk of the Nation, The Leonard Lopate Show, Michael Krasny's Forum and several other public radio affiliate stations.
From Publishers Weekly: "In her first book, veteran journalist Ramin turns herself into a guinea pig as she seeks ways to restore her own failing memory and growing inability to concentrate. Looking at a wide variety of genetic, biochemical and environmental factors that slow the connections among the brain's 100 billion neurons, especially in the hippocampus, Ramin undertakes 10 interventions, methods of achieving her cognitive enhancement. She logs the ups and downs of medications such as Adderall and Provigil; she looks at dietary supplements and biofeedback. … Overall, the variety of perspectives and the wealth of scientific information Ramin provides, as well as her warm personal style, will reward readers and may help them stay mentally sharp."
Ramin is currently at work on her next book, The Fragile Column, which will explore the travails of back pain patients as they search for relief. Her reporting, which took four years to complete, examines why so many patients fail to get better, reveals the cost of industry malfeasance, and offers practical solutions. She is currently represented by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management in New York City.
Ramin has spoken before many groups, including the American Bankers Association, the Harmonie Club of New York, the Society of the Four Arts, the Christamore House Guild and the Inner Circle of Advocates, a group of the top trial lawyers in America. Ramin is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Science Writers, the Authors Guild and the Journalism and Women Symposium. In 2013, she was awarded a grant by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. She is also a MacDowell Colony fellow, a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and an Emeritus member of The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.