Flagship Pioneering CEO talks with Dean Ashish Jha about Moderna vaccine and more

As a key advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommended booster shots for those who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown School of Public Health, was talking with Noubar Afeyan, CEO of Flagship Pioneering, the company that created and nurtured Moderna, as part of the Dean’s conversation series.

There was talk about the influence of immigrants – as a boy, Afeyan lived through civil war in Lebanon to immigrate to Canada and then to the US. “Immigrants who get citizenship are Americans by choice,” Afeyan said. “When you choose to be American, it is a very different act. Every American who is American by choice working for same ideals.”

Afeyan spoke about how Flagship Pioneering, the company he leads, nurtured Moderna.

“Flagship was set up as an institutional platform for innovation,” he said. At a time when most were following what he called “adjacencies” – a routine path from A to B to C – they were working to leap beyond adjacencies to make new connections. mRNA would be the glue to those new connections.

And, it would be the key to a new vaccine against COVID-19. Moderna has released its intellectual property to those who would use it to fight the pandemic, Afeyan said. In producing millions of vaccine doses, Moderna also is committed to providing these vaccines to low income countries, he said.

              Listen to the full conversation here.