Trauma has shaped me to commit to doing something useful: Noubar Afeyan

Noubar Afeyan sat down with Lara Tcholakian to share his historical narratives and the role that his great aunt Armenouhi had on him and his brothers as children. The Armenian genocide has helped him better understand his place in the world and shaped the degree to which he has become committed to doing something useful for the world. To that effect, Afeyan explained the role that the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has had over the past eight years, and the reasons why the initiative will continue to expand worldwide. Afeyan shared his views on why it’s important to think and build toward the future, and the attributes required to be destination-oriented, to reach goals, and to drive transformation, whether nationally or in a corporate setting. As the founder of Flagship Pioneering, he also discussed the ways in which he and his team work to make breakthrough companies through breakthrough innovations, including the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine. Finally, the discussion turned to the role of collective healing, education, the meaning in life, and the connection between Armenian spiritual rituals and life in general.

About Dr. Noubar Afeyan

Noubar Afeyan is founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. As part of the spinoffs of Flagship Pioneering, he co-founded Moderna the pioneering messenger RNA medicines company, for which he is Board Chairman. He is also co-founder and Board Chairman of Omega Therapeutics, Generate Biomedicines, Tessera Therapeutics, Alltrna, Apriori Bio, and ProFound Therapeutics. Throughout his career, Afeyan has cofounded and helped build over 70 life science and technology startups. Born in Beirut, he completed his undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal and his PhD in biochemical engineering at MIT. He has written numerous scientific publications and is the inventor of over 100 patents. He was a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a lecturer at Harvard Business School. Together with his partners, he has launched philanthropic projects including the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, FAST Foundation, and the UWC Dilijan School. Afeyan is a member of the Corporation of MIT (the Institute’s governing body) and a member of the board of trustees for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Afeyan was awarded a Great Immigrant honor from the Carnegie Corporation in 2016, received a Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum in 2012, and was presented with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2008. In 2022, Noubar was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Program overview

In a new, open setting, Lara deconstructs inherited cultural and historical narratives, memories, life lessons and experiences from change catalysts. Her guests reflect on the stories, people, events and mindsets that have shaped their professional and personal lives, enabling them to create a more mindful life.

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