About Us

The mission of the MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab is to understand and improve the supply chain systems behind public services and private markets to meet human needs. Based within the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, the Lab combines MIT expertise in engineering, management, information technology, social science, economics, urban planning and other disciplines to drive practical innovation for humanitarian interventions. The lab has a diverse portfolio of projects to improve emergency response during crisis and to enable market development that improves resilience. Our theoretical and applied research is driven by active engagement with the private sector, government agencies, humanitarian, international development, and community organizations on several continents.

There are two primary education and research areas in the Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab.

  • Emergency response: Supply chains are the critical link in delivering life-saving supplies during crisis triggered by events such as natural disasters, conflict, and disease outbreak. The research combines (1) empirical study of the decision-making context through appropriately-sanctioned deployment during crisis and observation of training exercises, (2) development of decision support systems based on empirical insights, and (3) practical application by upgrading skills through education and shaping public and private sector policies and practices through research.
  • Emerging market development: Supply chains are fundamental in making products that are essential for human needs more affordable, available, and accessible in communities around the world. The research combines (1) empirical fieldwork to understand the business context in resource-constrained settings, (2) scientific models to design supply chains that incorporate these new paradigms, and (3) systemic approaches to evaluate which products and processes are likely to reach scale.

The lab’s emerging market efforts support emergency response by strengthening supply chains in vulnerable communities to increase resiliency.


Image by Mark Brennan