UC Berkeley News


Jean Lanjouw

17 November 2005

Jean Lanjouw (Photo courtesy the Lanjouw family)
Jean O. Lanjouw, associate professor of economics in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, died of cancer on Nov. 1, within just a few months of learning of her diagnosis. She died in Washington, D.C., where she shared a home with her husband and two children. She was 43.

Lanjouw's research focused on assessing and addressing the plight of the poor in developing countries, both through methodological work in poverty measurement and through detailed study of how specific mechanisms - such as intellectual-property rights in the pharmaceutical sector - affect the poor's accessibility to important drugs.

In addition to her faculty appointment in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Lanjouw had fellowships at the Brookings Institution, the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., and the National Bureau of Economic Research. She consulted for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and statistical organizations in South Africa and Brazil. She advised trade negotiators for many nations and participated in a number of international debates on drug access in developing countries.

She worked with colleagues (including her husband, World Bank economist Peter Lanjouw) to understand and counteract poverty in developing countries by quantifying poverty and inequality in neighborhoods or towns, and studying the role of property rights in these areas.

In Lanjouw's research and in many of her policy proposals, she examined the degree to which patent litigation serves as a barrier to entry into innovative, high-tech industries, and how patents provide incentives for research and development. Her research on international issues examined the effects of the World Trade Organization requirement that forced many developing countries to introduce pharmaceutical patents. Based on her research, she developed a policy mechanism that would create a global patent system tailored to differences in countries' development levels and to the importance of product markets.

Toward the end of her life, her work on how to finance pharmaceutical innovations for developing countries began to attract substantial attention throughout the world. Her proposal for a mechanism that would permit the poorest countries in the world to preserve access to drugs at the lowest possible cost, without compromising their adherence to global patenting agreements, was widely disseminated and discussed on the pages of major U.S. media.

Bronwyn Hall, a Berkeley professor of economics and one of the world's most respected researchers on intellectual property, said Lanjouw "was always a heroine of mine - with her boundless energy, positive outlook, and the effort she devoted to the crusade for generics in the Third World."

Berk Özler of the World Bank's Development Research Group observed that Lanjouw "was passionate to turn the ideas in her academic research into reality. She traveled tirelessly ... to promote better access to generic drugs in poor countries."

Lanjouw, known as "Jenny" by friends and colleagues, was also an empathetic and effective teacher. Students praised her friendliness, her use of extremely recent material, and her sharing of her own research and public-policy experiences.

Lanjouw obtained her A.B. in mathematics and economics, summa cum laude, from Miami University, attended the master's program in economics at the Delhi School of Economics in India, and received both her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics. Before her appointment at Berkeley in July 2003, she taught economics at Yale.

Lanjouw is survived by her husband, Peter, of Washington, D.C.; daughter, Else, 3; and son, Max, 6.

A campus memorial will be held on Friday, Dec. 9 from 3 to 4 p.m. in Morgan Hall Lounge. Donations in Lanjouw's memory may be made to the Jean O. Lanjouw Memorial Fund for Intellectual Property Rights and Development. Checks should be made out to "UC Berkeley Foundation" (with a memo or cover note stating that the check is for the Lanjouw Memorial Fund) and sent to College of Natural Resources, Office of College Relations, 101 Giannini Hall #3100, Berkeley, CA 94720.

- Cyril Manning