Noubar Afeyan was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1962. In 1975, his family, fleeing the civil war in Lebanon, moved to Montreal, where Noubar attended Loyola High School, graduating in 1978. He then attended McGill University (B.S. ’83) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D. ’87). In 1988, Noubar founded PerSeptive Biosystems and while CEO of PerSeptive, he co-founded and funded numerous other biotechnology companies. In 2000, he founded Flagship Ventures (now, Flagship Pioneering) which focuses on creating and developing innovative scientific ventures. Although he is involved in numerous entrepreneurial pursuits, Noubar also devotes much of his time to philanthropic initiatives.
In 2008, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his contributions to society in the United States and Armenia. He has also been honoured by the Armenian Government (2012, 2014) and the Armenian Church (2012) for his outstanding work on behalf of the worldwide Armenian community. In 2015, he co-founded the 100 Lives Initiative to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide. In 2016, 100 Lives inaugurated the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an annual award given to an individual who has faced personal risk to enable others to survive.