MIT’s Williams Decodes Economics of Gene Sequencing

Jeanna Smialek

Heidi Williams’s dad helped with her high school science-fair projects by driving her two hours from their North Dakota town to get books on World War II German cryptography. After studying up, she would present new ways to crack the cipher.

These days, Williams is trying to help scientists as they unlock the secrets of a different code: the human genome. The 32-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist is examining health-care innovation with a $430,000 National Science Foundation CAREER grant, an award given to “exceptionally promising” junior faculty who excel as educators and researchers. 

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