Amitabh Chandra - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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Amitabh Chandra

Henry and Allison McCance Professor of Business Administration

Technology and Operations Management

Amitabh Chandra is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy and Director of Health Policy Research at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) Panel of Health Advisors, and is a Research Associate at the IZA Institute in Bonn, Germany and at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). His research focuses on productivity and cost-growth in healthcare, medical malpractice, and racial disparities in healthcare.

His research has been has been published in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Health Affairs.

Chandra has testified to the United States Senate and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. His research has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Newsweek, and on National Public Radio. In 2011 he served as Massachusetts' Special Commissioner on Provider Price Reform. In 2013, he founded Health Engine, a company that reduces the price of healthcare.

Professor Chandra is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, the first-prize recipient of the Upjohn Institute's Dissertation Award, the Kenneth Arrow Award for best paper in health economics, and the Eugene Garfield Award for the impact of medical research. In 2012, he was awarded American Society of Health Economists (ASHE) medal. The ASHE Medal is awarded biennially to the economist age 40 or under who has made the most significant contributions to the field of health economics.

At HBS, Professor Chandra is teaching in the MD/MBA programs as well as in the Executive Education Programs.

Journal Articles
  1. Innovation Incentives and Biomarkers

    Ariel Dora Stern, Brian M. Alexander and Amitabh Chandra

    Previously, we have discussed the importance of economic incentives in shaping markets for precision medicines. Here we consider incentives for biomarker development, including discovery and establishment. Biomarkers can reveal valuable information regarding diagnosis and prognosis, predict treatment efficacy or toxicity, serve as markers of disease progression, and serve as auxiliary endpoints for clinical trials. Some have multiple uses, while others have a specialized role, resulting in diverse incentives across players in the healthcare system.

    Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Innovation and Invention; Research and Development; Markets;


    Stern, Ariel Dora, Brian M. Alexander, and Amitabh Chandra. "Innovation Incentives and Biomarkers." Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 103, no. 1 (January 2018): 34–36.  View Details
  2. How Economics Can Shape Precision Medicines

    Ariel Dora Stern, Brian M. Alexander and Amitabh Chandra

    Many public and private efforts in coming years will focus on research in precision medicine, developing biomarkers to indicate which patients are likely to benefit from a certain treatment so that others can be spared the cost—financial and physical—of being treated with unproductive therapies while more easily uncovering therapeutic signals. However, such research initiatives alone will not deliver new medicines to patients in the absence of strong incentives to bring new products to market. We examine the unique economics of precision medicines and associated biomarkers, placing an emphasis on the factors affecting their development, pricing, and access.

    Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Research; Economics; Motivation and Incentives;


    Stern, Ariel Dora, Brian M. Alexander, and Amitabh Chandra. "How Economics Can Shape Precision Medicines." Science 355, no. 6330 (March 17, 2017): 1131–1133.  View Details
Working Papers
  1. Identifying Sources of Inefficiency in Health Care

    Amitabh Chandra and Douglas O. Staiger

    In medicine, the reasons for variation in treatment rates across hospitals serving similar patients are not well understood. Some interpret this variation as unwarranted and push standardization of care as a way of reducing allocative inefficiency. However, an alternative interpretation is that hospitals with greater expertise in a treatment use it more because of their comparative advantage, suggesting that standardization is misguided. We develop a simple economic model that provides an empirical framework to separate these explanations. Estimating this model with data on treatments for heart attack patients, we find evidence of substantial variation across hospitals in both allocative inefficiency and comparative advantage, with most hospitals overusing treatment in part because of incorrect beliefs about their comparative advantage. A stylized welfare-calculation suggests that eliminating allocative inefficiency would increase the total benefits from this treatment by about a third.

    Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Performance Efficiency; Performance Productivity; Mathematical Methods;


    Chandra, Amitabh, and Douglas O. Staiger. "Identifying Sources of Inefficiency in Health Care." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 24035, November 2017.  View Details
  2. Characterizing the Drug Development Pipeline for Precision Medicines

    Amitabh Chandra, Craig Garthwaite and Ariel Dora Stern

    Precision medicines—therapies that rely on genetic, epigenetic, and protein biomarkers—create a better match between individuals with specific disease subtypes and medications that are more effective for those patients. These treatments are expected to be both more effective and more expensive than conventional therapies, implying that their introduction is likely to have a meaningful effect on health care spending patterns. In addition, precision medicines can change the expected profitability of therapies both by allowing more sophisticated pricing systems and potentially decreasing the costs of drug development through shorter and more focused trials. As a result, this could change the types of products that can be profitably brought to market. To better understand the landscape of precision medicines, we use a comprehensive database of over 130,000 global clinical trials over the past two decades. We identify clinical trials for likely precision medicines (LPMs) as those that use one or more relevant biomarkers. We then further segment trials based on the nature of the biomarker(s) used and other trial features with economic implications. Given potential changes in the incentives for bringing products to market, we also examine the relative importance of public agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and different types of private firms in developing precision medicines.

    Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Cost; Health Testing and Trials; Product Development; Economics; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Chandra, Amitabh, Craig Garthwaite, and Ariel Dora Stern. "Characterizing the Drug Development Pipeline for Precision Medicines." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 24026, November 2017.  View Details