Noubar Afeyan

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Noubar Afeyan
Born (1962-07-25) July 25, 1962 (age 59)
NationalityAmerican-Canadian
Alma materMcGill University (B.Eng., 1983)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D, Biochemical Engineering, 1987)
OccupationEntrepreneur, venture capitalist, inventor and philanthropist[1][2]
Years active1986–present[3]
Known forco-founding Moderna, Flagship Pioneering, Aurora Prize, The Future Armenian
Spouse(s)Anna Gunnarson
Children4

Noubar Afeyan (Western Armenian: Նուպար Աֆէեան; born in 1962) is an American-Canadian entrepreneur, inventor. and philanthropist of Armenian origin.[1][2] He is best known for co-founding the biotechnology company Moderna, through his venture capital firm, Flagship Pioneering, and for co-founding humanitarian projects such as Aurora Prize and The Future Armenian. As of November 2021, his net worth is estimated at $3.3 billion.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Afeyan was born to Armenian parents in Beirut, Lebanon in 1962.[1][3][2] His grandfather survived the Armenian genocide.[5][6] Talking about his background, Afeyan said: "One of the only unfortunate advantages Armenians have had by having gone through a genocide and having spread around the world is that we do have an experience of escaping and of immigrating and of constantly restarting."[5] His family fled Lebanon in 1975, during the civil war there.[5][7][3] He graduated from Loyola High School in Montreal in 1978.[7] He received his B.Eng. in chemical engineering from McGill University in 1983 and then moved to the US and earned a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1987.[7][1][3] He was the first PhD graduate from MIT’s Center for Bioprocess Engineering, at the time the only institution with that degree program.[8] [9] He became a U.S. citizen in 2008.[10]

Afeyan is married to Anna (née Gunnarson), a Swedish-born engineer who moved to the US in 1988. They have four children.[11][12]

Academic career and inventions[edit]

Afeyan has authored numerous scientific papers.[1] He has patented over 100 inventions.[3][1][13] Between 2000 and 2016 he was a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and is currently (as of 2020) a lecturer at Harvard Business School.[1][14][2]

Business career[edit]

Afeyan started his first biotechnology company in 1987, just a few days before Black Monday, and founded or co-founded five more companies within ten years.[3][1] By 2020 Afeyan had co-founded and developed 41 start-ups.[2] In total, he co-founded or helped build over 50 life science and technology startups.[1] [9]

Afeyan is the founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, a venture capital company focused on biotechnology, in 2000. The firm has "fostered the development of more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in $20 billion in total value and over 500 patents."[2] According to the company website, Flagship Pioneering has "fostered the development of more than 100 scientific ventures resulting in $30 billion in aggregate value, thousands of patents and patent applications, and more than 50 drugs in clinical development."[1]

In 2009 Afeyan co-founded Moderna (formerly ModeRNA Therapeutics) and currently serves as its chairman.[3][15][16] He owns over 2 million shares in the company; in 2018, Moderna had the biggest IPO in the biotech industry's history.[9]

In 2021, Afeyan announced that Moderna would not enforce its patent rights against anyone using those patents to make Covid vaccines. [17]

In 1988 he founded PerSeptive Biosystems and served as its CEO.[7] The company's annual revenues grew to $100 million and in 1998 was acquired by PerkinElmer/Applera and became CBO of Applera. There he oversaw the creation of Celera Genomics.[1]

Philanthropy[edit]

Afeyan sits on the boards of the MIT Corporation, the Boston Symphony Orchestra,[18][19][14] and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU).[14][2]

Afeyan has worked closely with other prominent Armenian diaspora philanthropists, most notably Ruben Vardanyan on projects related to Armenia. Afeyan had partnered with Vardanyan to establish Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA),[20] which according to the Armenian government, has between 2007 and 2017 implemented different projects with a total cost of $550 million.[21] Earlier, in 2001 Afeyan, Vardanyan and others launched the "Armenia 2020" initiative, which aimed to identify development prospects for Armenia until 2020. It has since been expanded to 2031.[22] In 2005 Afeyan and Vardanyan met with Armenian president Robert Kocharyan to present the key directions of the project.[23]

In 2008 Afeyan, Vardanyan and others co-founded the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia, a private-public partnership dedicated to promoting economic development in the country.[14][24] As a member of its board, he met with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan in 2009[25] and 2012.[26]

With Vardanyan and Vartan Gregorian, Afeyan co-founded the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in 2015.[27] It includes The 100 Lives initiative, which celebrates survivors and rescuers of the Armenian genocide,[14][2] and the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an annual award given to an individual (and an affiliated organization) who has faced personal risk to enable others to survive since 2016.[14] In 2020 Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan lauded Afeyan, Vardanyan and Gregorian for "glorifying humanity," and "materializ[ing] the noble idea of immortalizing the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide."[28]

Afeyan is a member of the board of UWC Dilijan International School in Armenia, founded by Vardanyan in 2014.[29][14][2], a founding angel of Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST).[30] and Future Armenian public initiative.

He points to his immigrant background and mentality as the driving forces of his philanthropic, scientific, and business work.[31]

Politics[edit]

In October 2016 Afeyan joined other prominent Armenians on calling the government of Armenia to adopt "new development strategies based on inclusiveness and collective action" and to create "an opportunity for the Armenian world to pivot toward a future of prosperity, to transform the post-Soviet Armenian Republic into a vibrant, modern, secure, peaceful and progressive homeland for a global nation."[32]

After the Velvet Revolution of 2018, Afeyan congratulated Nikol Pashinyan on being elected Armenia's prime minister and wrote that "With this turning point, we have an opportunity to bring together the skills and enthusiasm of Armenians across the globe who are able to contribute to accelerating Armenia’s and Artsakh’s growth and prosperity."[33] In July 2021 Afeyan met with Pashinyan in Yerevan.[34] In March and May 2020, Afeyan and Armenian president Armen Sarkissian discussed the COVID-19 pandemic.[35][36]

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Afeyan wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times in which he called for the US to step in and stop the war. "Whether or not the United States and Russia intervene to quell the violence has implications for vulnerable peoples around the world. When world powers step in to stop unfolding atrocities, it sends a signal to aggressors that annexing land or destroying a people and culture will not be tolerated," he wrote.[37]

In November 2020, Afeyan confirmed that the Canadian government had been among the first countries to pre-order the Moderna vaccine; the country is guaranteed to get some portion of the first batch dispensed to the public.[38]

Recognition[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Noubar Afeyan". flagshippioneering.com. Flagship Pioneering. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Noubar Afeyan". carnegie.org. Carnegie Corporation of New York. 2018. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Anderson, Stuart (August 11, 2020). "Immigrant-Founded Moderna Leading The Way In Covid-19 Response". Forbes. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020.
  4. ^ "#212 Noubar Afeyan". Forbes. 21 November 2021. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Abovian, Ellina; Habeshian, Sareen (November 24, 2020). "Moderna chairman, grandson of an Armenian genocide survivor, speaks about COVID-19 vaccine efforts and his own journey". KTLA. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020.
  6. ^ Zrein, Rim (3 December 2020). "Meet The Lebanese Chairman Behind The Vaccine Company With 94% Effectiveness". the961.com. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d "MR. NOUBAR AFEYAN '78". loyola.ca. Loyola High School. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020.
  8. ^ Anderson, Stuart. "In His Spare Time, Immigrant Noubar Afeyan Has Started 38 Companies In America". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  9. ^ a b c Kaplan, Juliana. "Meet Moderna's cofounder and chairman, whose coronavirus vaccine could roll out nationwide as soon as this weekend. He loves basketball and Dolly Parton". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  10. ^ a b "COVID-19 vaccine: Meet the immigrants driving the search". Study International. 2020-11-24. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  11. ^ "Anna Afeyan Gunnarson". uwcdilijan.org. UWC Dilijan. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  12. ^ Gregorian, Alin K. (September 26, 2019). "Making Immigration Great Again at Tribute to Afeyan". The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Noubar Afeyan". patents.google.com. Google Patents. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Noubar B. Afeyan". hbs.edu. Harvard Business School. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020.
  15. ^ "What we know about Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate — and what we don't". PBS News Hour. November 16, 2020. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Noubar Afeyan is a co-founder and chairman of Moderna...
  16. ^ "Moderna chairman: We don't need deep-freeze conditions for vaccine". CNN. 16 November 2020. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020.
  17. ^ Interview with Fareed Zakaria Dec. 5, 2021
  18. ^ "Noubar B. Afeyan '87". corporation.mit.edu. The MIT Corporation. Archived from the original on 6 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Board". annualreport.bso.org. Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc. Archived from the original on 2 December 2020.
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  24. ^ "Armenia's National Competitiveness Foundation attends Global Competitiveness Summit". Armenpress. 26 November 2013. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  25. ^ "Official News". gov.am. 10 February 2009. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  26. ^ "National Competitiveness Foundation Board Of Trustees Holds Regular Meeting". gov.am. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  27. ^ "The Founders". auroraprize.com. Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
  28. ^ "PM Nikol Pashinyan's Congratulatory Message on 5th Anniversary of Aurora Humanitarian Initiative". primeminister.am. 20 September 2020. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  29. ^ "Noubar Afeyan". uwcdilijan.org. UWC Dilijan. Archived from the original on 1 March 2020.
  30. ^ "Dr. Noubar Afeyan". fast.foundation. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Moderna chairman, grandson of an Armenian genocide survivor, speaks about COVID-19 vaccine efforts and his own journey". KTLA. 2020-11-25. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  32. ^ "'Global Armenians' Ad in NY Times Calls For 'Inclusive Leadership' in Armenia". Asbarez. October 28, 2016. Archived from the original on 3 August 2020.; text also available at "The Future for All Armenians Is Now". auroraprize.com. Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Archived from the original on 3 August 2020.
  33. ^ Vardanyan, Ruben; Afeyan, Noubar (May 8, 2018). "Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan congratulate Nikol Pashinyan on his election as Prime Minister of Armenia". idea.am. Charitable Foundation Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA). Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Nikol Pashinyan receives Noubar Afeyan". primeminister.am. The Office to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. 18 July 2021. Archived from the original on 19 July 2021.
  35. ^ "President Sarkissian spoke on the phone with the well-known Armenian-American businessman and benefactor Noubar Afeyan". president.am. 21 March 2020. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  36. ^ "President Armen Sarkissian had a distant conversation with the American businessman and benefactor Noubar Afeyan: combination of experience and knowledge will produce positive results". president.am. 19 May 2020. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  37. ^ Afeyan, Noubar (October 19, 2020). "Armenians Under Fire: Who Will Help?". The New York Times.
  38. ^ "Canada 'not at the back of the line' for COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna chairman says | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  39. ^ "Noubar Afeyan Receives 2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor". Business Wire. May 12, 2008. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  40. ^ "Noubar Afeyan". Remarkable Armenians. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  41. ^ "Tigran Sargsyan Visits Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, Meets With Armenian Community In Boston". gov.am. 13 December 2012. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  42. ^ "Technology Pioneers 2012". weforum.org. World Economic Forum. p. 91. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012.
  43. ^ "Ն. Աֆեյանին "Հայրենիքին մատուցած ծառայությունների համար" 2-րդ աստիճանի շքանշանով պարգեվատրելու մասին". president.am (in Armenian). 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 1 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  44. ^ States·February 2, Souad Lazkani·United; 2021 (2021-02-02). "8 Lebanese At Moderna Just Received The National Order Of Merit". The961. Retrieved 2021-07-22.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  45. ^ "Moderna's Noubar Afeyan awarded Lebanon's Order of Merit". Public Radio of Armenia. Retrieved 2021-07-22.