Giving Thanks to Dr. Alvin Roth for His Role in Our Book's Success

“Alvin E. Roth in Stockholm 2012.” From Wikimedia Commons. This is a free work, you can copy, distribute, and modify it under the terms of the Free Art License

Writing a book allows you to have unique and exciting conversations with people you may never have the opportunity to meet in your daily life. Lucia and I were honored to be able to receive support for our book from Dr. Alvin Roth. He currently serves as the Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University1. He has won numerous awards for his research in market design and game theory, including the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Dr. Roth’s research includes Matching Theory, Market Timing, and Experimental Economics. Over his illustrious career, he has always emphasized applying analytics to “real-world” problems. These problems have included a nationwide system for matching medical residents to hospitals, students to New York City and Boston public schools, and kidney donors with recipients.

The kidney donation modeling project gave Lucia and me a fantastic case study to weave throughout our book. The kidney donation chaining model that Dr. Roth and his team developed led to the implementation of nonsimultaneous extended altruistic donor (NEAD) chains. The NEAD model is a creative and innovative way to facilitate the allocation of kidneys for transplantation in situations where suitable donors cannot be found within a single family or group. In the NEAD model, donors are connected in chains, allowing them to donate their kidneys to someone they do not know. The donor’s organ is given to someone else whose family or friend can provide them with an organ which can then be donated back to the original donor’s intended recipient. This has been shown to have significant impacts on increasing transplant rates as well as improving individual patient outcomes after transplantation. NEADs is credited with saving thousands of lives over the past decade.

Dr. Roth has worked tirelessly to improve the NEAD analytical model and the political and economic barriers to adopting it globally. The Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) is a system that is designed to be a more equitable way of organ sharing since it allows patients who have fewer privileges and resources access to organ transplants that would otherwise not be possible. It also eliminates the need for long waiting lists, which can often lead to complications for those awaiting transplantation. This system has successfully increased access to kidney transplants worldwide, particularly in countries where donor-recipient matching was previously difficult or impossible.

Are you interested in finding out more about Dr. Roth’s analytical projects? He is a prolific blogger, and we used his blog as a source for the book2. NEAD was nominated for the 2014 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences3. He also did an interview with INFORMS in the summer of 2021 that covered the challenges of implementing the NEAD model in the United States and now globally4.

  1. “Al Roth, Professor of Economics, Stanford University.” Accessed December 31, 2022.↩︎

  2. ↩︎

  3. Anderson, Ross, Itai Ashlagi, David Gamarnik, Michael Rees, Alvin E. Roth, Tayfun Sönmez, and M. Utku Ünver. “Kidney Exchange and the Alliance for Paired Donation: Operations Research Changes the Way Kidneys Are Transplanted.” INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics 45, no. 1 (February 1, 2015): 26–42. doi:10.1287/inte.2014.0766. ↩︎

  4. Kidney Exchange: An Operations Perspective, a Webinar with Al Roth, 2021.↩︎

Walt DeGrange
Walt DeGrange
CANA Director of Analytics Capabilities

An avid analytics professional that enjoys learning, teaching, and using analytical techniques and tools to answer challenging questions.