Friday, December 14, 2018

Successful birth in Brazil to a woman who received a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor

The Lancet reports the first known case of a live birth to a woman born without a uterus who received a transplanted uterus from a deceased donor.

Livebirth after uterus transplantation from a deceased donor in a recipient with uterine infertility

December 04, 2018 DOI:


Uterus transplantation from live donors became a reality to treat infertility following a successful Swedish 2014 series, inspiring uterus transplantation centres and programmes worldwide. However, no case of livebirth via deceased donor uterus has, to our knowledge, been successfully achieved, raising doubts about its feasibility and viability, including whether the womb remains viable after prolonged ischaemia.


In September, 2016, a 32-year-old woman with congenital uterine absence (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser [MRKH] syndrome) underwent uterine transplantation in Hospital das Clínicas, University of São Paulo, Brazil, from a donor who died of subarachnoid haemorrhage. The donor was 45 years old and had three previous vaginal deliveries. The recipient had one in-vitro fertilisation cycle 4 months before transplant, which yielded eight cryopreserved blastocysts.


The recipient showed satisfactory postoperative recovery and was discharged after 8 days' observation in hospital. 
The female baby weighed 2550 g at birth, appropriate for gestational age, with Apgar scores of 9 at 1 min, 10 at 5 min, and 10 at 10 min, and along with the mother remains healthy and developing normally 7 months post partum. The uterus was removed in the same surgical procedure as the livebirth and immunosuppressive therapy was suspended.
In Brazil (where commercial surrogacy is apparently illegal, and legal surrogates must be family members of the intended mother), the urge to have one's own baby is nevertheless strong. 
See earlier post:

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Kidney exchange looks imminent in Sweden

Dagens Medicin (Today's Medicine) has the story:

Nytt koncept ska ge fler en ny njure
Snart startar ett nytt utbytesprogram av njurar som sträcker sig över hela Sverige. 
(GT: New concept will give more a new kidney
Soon a new kidney replacement program will start all over Sweden.)

"The exchange program has shown good results in other countries, so expectations are high, says Per Lindnér, Senior Assistant and Operations Manager at Transplant Center at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.

"He is one of the initiators of the first Swedish renal exchange program. It can easily be described as a database matching system that couples potential donors and recipients within renal donation.
"Today, all of the country's centers for kidney transplants participate, that is, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital, Academic Hospital and Skåne University Hospital.

- Even hospitals in Norway and Denmark want to connect. But the idea is to start nationally and expand over time, "says Per Lindnér.
"The idea of ​​a national exchange program was born three years ago when Per Lindnér visited a seminar with Tommy Andersson, professor of discreet mathematics at Lund University.

Tommy Andersson talked about the mathematical background of an American renal exchange program created by Alvin Roth, former winner of Sveriges Riksbank's award in economics, to Alfred Nobel's memory.

When Per Lindnér wanted to introduce the same concept in Sweden, Tommy Andersson contributed with his knowledge, which forms the basis for the program."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

MD4SG Colloquium: (Market Design for Social Good): tomorrow (updated with a video)

I'll be speaking in the MD4SG Colloquium Series, online, tomorrow, Thursday, December 13th, 12-1:30 PM EST

Date: Thursday, December 13th, 12:00-1:30 PM EST

Market design is more complicated than mechanism design. And so is achieving good social outcomes.

Marketplaces are often small parts of large markets, and so potential marketplace participants may have large strategy sets, that include actions taken outside of the marketplace. And markets require social support, so the behavior of people who do not intend to participate in the market may nevertheless be important for market design. This talk will illustrate these points with some examples, drawing on experience from the design of school choice systems and kidney exchange clearinghouses.

Update: here it is

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The (private equity) market for dermatologists

Dermatology is a lucrative part of medicine, and private equity firms are buying medical practices, which has led to an unusual quarrel in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, involving corporate interests.

The NY Times has the story:
Why Private Equity Is Furious Over a Paper in a Dermatology Journal

"Early this month, a respected medical journal published a research paper on its website that analyzed the effects of a business trend roiling the field of dermatology: the rapid entrance of private equity firms into the specialty by buying and running practices around the country.

"Eight days later, after an outcry from private equity executives and dermatologists associated with private equity firms, the editor of the publication removed the paper from the site.
"Dermatologists account for one percent of physicians in the United States, but 15 percent of recent private equity acquisitions of medical practices have involved dermatology practices. Other specialties that have attracted private equity investment include orthopedics, radiology, cardiology, urgent care, anesthesiology and ophthalmology.
"This week a lawyer for Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, which is backed by private equity and is the largest dermatology practice in the United States, called the general counsel at the University of Florida, where two of the authors are employed, demanding specific changes to the paper."

Monday, December 10, 2018

Self regulation of black markets on the dark web?

Here's an interesting story from the Guardian, about some dark-web black markets in the U.K. banning fentanyl, as too deadly and (hence) too likely to attract vigorous police attention:

Dark web dealers voluntarily ban deadly fentanyl
Suppliers, fearing police crackdown, decide opioid is too high-risk to trade

"Major dark web drug suppliers have started to voluntarily ban the synthetic opioid fentanyl because it is too dangerous, the National Crime Agency has said.

"They are “delisting” the high-strength painkiller, effectively classifying it alongside mass-casualty firearms and explosives as commodities that are considered too high-risk to trade.
"Vince O’Brien, one of the NCA’s leads on drugs, told the Observer that dark web marketplace operators appeared to have made a commercial decision, because selling a drug that could lead to fatalities was more likely to prompt attention from police.

"It is the first known instance of these types of operators moving to effectively ban a drug.
"O’Brien said that the NCA is working with US law enforcement agencies to prevent the UK from having a similar fentanyl epidemic, though the number of people dependent on opioids in the UK compared to America means it has a much smaller market."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Gabriel Weintraub's class on online marketplaces at Stanford GSB (winter quarter)

Gabriel Weintraub writes:

I am sharing this information in case some of you are interested on this new half-quarter PhD course I will be teaching this coming Winter:

OIT 648: Empirics of Online Markets
In this course we cover current research on the empirics of platforms and online marketplaces. We will study diverse topics relevant to the design of these markets such as search and matching, review and reputation systems, demand estimation, and pricing. We will do so in the context of different application domains such as rentals, sharing, e-commerce, labor markets, and advertising. The course will be eclectic in terms of approaches, using reduced-form and structural econometrics, machine learning, and experimentation. The course will mostly consist of recent papers presented by the instructor, guests, and students. Some background knowledge required to understand current work will be provided as needed.

The course will meet on the following Mondays between 3:30 and 6:20PM: 
- Mon. Feb 4
- Mon. Feb. 11
- Mon. Feb. 25
- Mon, Mar 4
- Mon. Mar 11
- Fri. Mar. 15

Saturday, December 8, 2018

School choice, an overview by the Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress, a DC think tank, reviews school choice:
Expanding Access to High-Quality Schools
Implementing School Choice Algorithms

From the introduction:

"According to a 2017 analysis by the Brookings Institution, the proportion of large school districts that offered school choice doubled from 2000 through 2016.1 As a result, of the more than 50.1 million students nationwide who attended public schools over the 2015-16 school year, more than 2.8 million students attended public charter schools, and more than 2.6 million students attended magnet schools. Additional students attended other types of public schools of choice, such as those with specialty or thematic programs.
"A centralized system can simplify enrollment for both families and schools. Students apply through a single application, ranking a list of schools that they would like to attend and receiving a single offer to one of their preferred schools. However, system design matters when it comes to centralized enrollment. Depending on how a district assigns an offer for each student, some families can unfairly manipulate the system to make it more likely that their child secures a seat at a more in-demand, usually better-performing school.

To reduce this risk of strategic manipulation in centralized enrollment systems, Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag Pathak, Alvin E. Roth and Tayfun Sönmez—economists with expertise in game theory and market design—proposed a solution. They designed two fair and efficient matching algorithms—or a set of rules and calculations—to ensure that, given the preferences of all other students and schools in the system, each student receives a single offer with his or her best possible school match. Specifically, the economists designed two matching algorithms suitable for centralized assignment: deferred acceptance (DA) and top trading cycles (TTC)."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Congratulations to Eva Tardos, winner of the 2019 IEEE John von Neumann Medal

Congratulations to Eva Tardos.  The Communications of the ACM has the news:
Tardos to Receive von Neumann Medal

"Tardos was cited "For contributions to the field of algorithms, including foundational new methods in optimization, approximation algorithms, and algorithmic game theory."
"She will receive the Medal next May at the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and Awards Ceremony in San Diego, CA."

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Repugnance watch: pay toilets

Citylab reports:
Pay Toilets Are Illegal in Much of the U.S. They Shouldn't Be.
In the 1970s, many American cities and states banned pay toilets, but the vision of abundant free toilets for all never came to pass.
NOV 19, 2018, by Sophie House

"failures of sanitation are not confined to the developing world. In cities around the United States, groups from pregnant women to taxi drivers and people experiencing homelessness suffer from the lack of public restrooms. One solution common in European cities—the pay toilet, which charges a small fee for use—is largely absent from the American landscape, and in fact, is banned in many cities and states.
"In 1969, California Assemblywoman March Fong Eu smashed a porcelain toilet with an axe in front of the California state capitol, protesting the misogyny of restrooms that charged entrance fees for stalls but not urinals. She was not alone in her frustration. ...The grassroots organization CEPTIA—the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America—mobilized against pay toilets, putting out a quarterly newsletter (the Free Toilet Paper) and exchanging warring pamphlets with Nik-O-Lok, the leading pay-toilet manufacturer. The group won a citywide ordinance banning pay toilets in Chicago in 1973, followed by bans in Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

In the decades since CEPTIA disbanded, however, pay-toilet bans have proven to be a Pyrrhic victory. The committee’s vision of free toilets for all never came to pass. Cities have persistently refused to construct public restrooms, and existing facilities have fallen into disrepair. Citing the difficulty of keeping bathrooms safe and clean, municipalities are often unwilling or unable to pay. ...

By contrast, in cities from Europe to India to Latin America, small entrance fees help to cover the costs of keeping facilities in good condition. Creating a similar revenue stream to defray operating costs would likely make pay toilets more attractive to U.S. municipalities. For example, fees could offset the costs of hiring restroom attendants—an excellent, but expensive, way to keep bathrooms safe. Pay toilets also redistribute the operating costs of restrooms. Free toilets are, of course, taxpayer-funded, while under pay-toilet schemes, tourists who use urban infrastructure also contribute to its functioning."

HT: Alex Tabarrok at MR

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Would government compensation of kidney donors help or hurt the poor?

Here's an article in PLOS ONE that asks a question whose answer is often simply assumed by those who oppose compensation for kidney donors:

Would government compensation of living kidney donors exploit the poor? An empirical analysis
Philip J. Held  , Frank McCormick , Glenn M. Chertow, Thomas G. Peters, John P. Roberts
Published: November 28, 2018

"Government compensation of kidney donors would likely increase the supply of kidneys and prevent the premature deaths of tens of thousands of patients with kidney failure each year. The major argument against it is that it would exploit the poor who would be more likely to accept the offers of compensation. This overlooks the fact that many poor patients desperately need a kidney transplant and would greatly benefit from an increased supply of kidneys. The objective of this study is to empirically test the hypothesis that government compensation of kidney donors would exploit the poor. Exploitation is defined by economists and several noted ethicists as paying donors less than the fair market value of their kidney. Exploitation is expressed in monetary terms and compared with the economic benefit recipients receive from a transplant. Data are from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and the United States Renal Data System annual data reports. Educational attainment is used as a proxy for income. We estimate that if the government rewards living donors with a package of non-cash benefits worth $75,000 per kidney, donors would not be exploited. Much more important, this compensation would likely end the kidney shortage, enabling many more patients with kidney failure to obtain transplants and live longer and healthier lives. The value of kidney transplantation to a U.S. recipient is about $1,330,000, which is an order of magnitude greater than any purported exploitation of a living donor (zero to $75,000). Consequently, the aggregate net benefit to the poor alone from kidney transplantation would increase to about $12 billion per year from $1 billion per year currently. Most of the benefit would accrue to poor kidney recipients. But poor donors would receive the fair market value of their kidney, and hence would not be exploited. If the government wanted to ensure that donors also received a net benefit, it could easily do so by increasing the compensation above $75,000 per donor."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Feeding America: Podcast on HBS case study of Canice Prendergast and Feeding America

Here's an audio interview of Canice Prendergast and Scott Kominers (who wrote the HBS case study) about the work that Prendergast and colleagues did with a team from Feeding America, which manages a network of more than 200 food banks nationwide.

The podcast is here: Building a Nonprofit Marketplace to Feed America

Prendergast says at one point: "The dynamic of the group was wonderful. I think one of the amazing things about this committee was essentially the length of time we got to listen to each other. I think if it has turned out to be a success, the reason was largely because of the willingness not of the academics to listen to the practitioners, but actually the practitioners to listen to the academics. This was a long way removed from anything that they imagined they would do when we started."

You can read the whole transcript by clicking on "Read More" at the bottom of the page linked above.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Arrow Lecture at Columbia (video): Market design (with discussion by Parag Pathak and Joe Stiglitz)

Here's a video of the lecture I gave on Columbia on November 8, in honor and in memory of Ken Arrow. My title was "Market Design in Large Worlds: The Example of Kidney Exchange."
My discussants were Parag Pathak and Joe Stiglitz, and you can see them too.
I used slides (and so did Parag), but they don't seem to have made it fully onstage in the video.  But the audio is good, and you can see how good looking we all are...

The theme of my talk is that one big lesson of market design is that participants have big strategy sets, and this has implications for, among other things, how marketplaces need to be adaptively maintained.  One of Parag's examples in his discussion is how more NYC schools have begun to screen students since more effective choice was introduced, and how this may sometimes work against the goals that increased choice was intended to achieve (so that the NYCDOE is working to reduce screening by schools...).

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Match-Up 2019 conference in Switzerland, May 2019. Call for papers

Bettina Klaus points me towards this call for papers, for the latest in a series of conferences on matching. (I had the good fortune to attend the first and the fourth of these, in 2008 and 2017.)

MATCH-UP 2019: the Fifth International Workshop on Matching Under Preferences

May 26th-29th 2019
Congressi Stefano Franscini,
Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland (please subscribe to our mailing list there)
contact e-mail (Bettina Klaus):

(each participant will pay a fee covering direct costs of meals, coffee breaks, and an excursion, based on actual costs, of about 400 CHF)

MATCH-UP 2019 is the fifth workshop in the series of interdisciplinary and international workshops on matching under preferences.  The first in the series took place in Reykjavik in 2008, the second took place in
Budapest in 2012, the third in Glasgow in 2015, and the fourth in Boston in 2017.


Matching problems with preferences occur in widespread applications such as the assignment of school-leavers to universities, junior doctors to
hospitals, students to campus housing, children to schools, kidney
transplant patients to donors and so on. The common thread is that
individuals have preference lists over the possible outcomes and the task
is to find a matching of the participants that is in some sense optimal
with respect to these preferences.

The remit of this workshop is to explore matching problems with
preferences from the perspective of algorithms and complexity, discrete
mathematics, combinatorial optimization, game theory, mechanism design and economics, and thus a key objective is to bring together the research communities of the related areas.

List of topics:

The matching problems under consideration include, but are not limited to:
* two-sided matchings involving agents on both sides (e.g. college
  admissions, resident allocation, job markets, school choice, etc.)
* two-sided matchings involving agents and items (e.g. house allocation,
  course allocation, project allocation, assigning papers to reviewers,
  school choice, etc.)
* one-sided matchings (roommates problem, kidney exchanges, etc.)
* matching with payments (assignment game, etc.)

Invited speakers:
* Péter Biró, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
* Flip Klijn, Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
* Bahar Rastegari, University of Southampton, UK
* Ildi Schlotter, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

MATCH-UP 2019 Submissions, Easychair Paper Submission link:

We call for original papers that have not previously been published in (or accepted to appear in) a conference proceedings or a journal. Papers can however be under review for a conference or journal elsewhere at the time of submission.
There is no page limit for submissions. The submission should contain within the first 12 pages a clear presentation of the merits of the paper, including a discussion of the paper's importance within the context of prior work and a description of the key technical and conceptual ideas used to achieve its main claims. Proofs that can enable the main mathematical claims of the paper to be verified must be provided. Material other than the first 12 pages will be read at the committee's discretion.
Only abstracts of accepted papers will appear in the workshop proceedings. This should allow the simultaneous or subsequent submission of contributed papers to other workshops, conferences or journals. If authors so choose, they may include a link to the full version of their paper (if published, e.g., on arXiv, REpeC, SSRN or on a personal web page) in the proceedings.

MATCH-UP 2019 Important dates:
  • Paper submission deadline: 15 January 2019
  • Notification: 22 February 2019
  • Final version for proceedings: 15 March 2019
  • Poster abstract submission deadline: 1 April 2019
  • Workshop: Sunday 26 May (starting at 1400) to Wednesday 29 May (ending at 1830) with an excursion in the afternoon of Tuesday 28 May
MATCH-UP 2019 Organizing Committee:
  • Péter Biró, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
  • Tamás Fleiner,  Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary (CS Program Chair)
  • Bettina Klaus, University of Lausanne, Switzerland (Chair)
  • David Manlove, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Marek Pycia, University of Zürich, Switzerland (ECON Program Chair)
MATCH-UP Steering Committee:

Further information:


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Why own your own (fashionable) clothes?

There's a rental market for fashionable women's clothes, Rent the Runway

The NY Times ran a feature story on it:
The Transformational Bliss of Borrowing Your Office Clothes
Rent the Runway’s Unlimited service saves working women something more valuable than money: their time.

"Though Rent the Runway was originally conceived as a solution for women who didn’t want to invest in party-wear they might use only once, Unlimited has become a strategic solution for professional women...