Heidi Williams

  • The Toulouse Network for Information Technology

Associate Professor of Economics

Department of Economics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02142

(617) 324-4326


Website: MIT faculty profile

Issues: Patents, Innovation and Economic Growth and Intellectual Property

About Heidi Williams

Heidi Williams is the Class of 1957 Career Development Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Economics, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Her research agenda focuses on investigating the causes and consequences of technological change in health care markets. She studies how intellectual property rules, such as patents, encourage or discourage innovation in health care, from the development of new cancer treatments to the study of specific genes.


Professor Williams is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2015) for her work that looks at the effects of patent policies and technology on medical research and health care. The high-profile annual fellowships, unofficially known as “genius grants,” include an unrestricted award of $625,000. Additionally, she received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2015). In 2016, Professor Williams received the Kauffman/iHEA (International Health Economics Association) Arrow Award for Best Paper in Health Economics.


Professor Williams has written many articles around her work with the Human Genome Project, and whether or not intellectual property rights influence the pace of biomedical research. These articles have appeared in such publications as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the American Economic Review, and the Journal of Political Economy.


Ph.D., Harvard University, 2010
M.Sc., University of Oxford, 2004
A.B., Dartmouth College, 2003

Related Academics

TAP blog posts
Recent posts by Heidi Williams