Noubar Afeyan: “Gratitude Is an Integral Part of Aurora’s Being”

Noubar Afeyan: “Gratitude Is an Integral Part of Aurora’s Being”

On May 9, 2024, The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law and the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative jointly hosted a Human Rights and Humanitarian Forum to bring attention to some of the most alarming global trends and to promote promising solutions. 

The Forum was held at UCLA Luskin Conference Center and featured a series of talks and discussions by global thought leaders and local changemakers from UCLA, The Promise Institute and Aurora networks, addressing major topics of pressing concern from human rights and forced displacement to the global health crisis, the right to education, climate change, artificial intelligence, philanthropy, and gender equality. 

At the beginning of the event, the attendees were greeted by Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, Founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, and Co-Founder and Chairman of Moderna. “Our hearts are filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude for what this whole movement represents, and gratitude, as many of you know, is an integral part of Aurora’s being,” said Dr. Afeyan. “I think, in my daily life as a biotech entrepreneur, of DNA, and the two strands that are inextricably linked and carry forward the information. For us, those two strands are represented by gratitude and action.”

Erin Bromaghim, Deputy Mayor of International Affairs of the City of Los Angeles, then took the stage to welcome everyone to LA on behalf or Mayor Karen Bass and talk about her vision of how urban environment plays a role in protecting human rights. “The bridges that we build to one another, that connect us to what works in cities, they create momentum to do more good work, and they lift up the people that are doing that good work,” noted Deputy Mayor Bromaghim. “And I believe that because I believe cities are where policies become real. Cities decide where, and what, and how, and how equitably we build the infrastructure that defines our lives. Cities have the power and the responsibility to make human rights real.”

Professor Michael Waterstone, Dean of UCLA School of Law, addressed the participants next. “We here at the Law School and UCLA are so proud to be your partners in this event, which brings together the world’s most eminent thought leaders and changemakers. I’ve seen us do this time and time again, using our power as an institution to convene and becoming a change multiplier. And we’re just so grateful for the opportunity to host this important conversation,” said Professor Waterstone.

The opening remarks were followed by a conversation between Dr. Eric Esrailian, Chief of the UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, Philanthropist, Film Producer, Entrepreneur, Aurora Board Member and Co-Chair of the 2024 Aurora Prize Events in Los Angeles, and Michael Milken, Chairman of the Milken Institute. During the discussion, Dr. Esrailian asked Mr. Milken about his work with the Milken Institute and its latest Global Conference, which took place on May 5–8, 2024 in Los Angeles.


As he introduced Mr. Milken, Dr. Esrailian pointed out his impressive achievements and thanked him for the collaboration on the Aurora Prize Los Angeles events. “He’s only been running the most massive conference you could ever imagine, and he made sure that he would spend some time with us. We’re truly honored,” stated Dr. Esrailian. “For those of you who are not aware, the Milken Global Conference is a gathering of some of the most impressive and important people [from] around the world doing work in every possible industry, from business leaders to humanitarians, like many of you here today, to entrepreneurs and educators tackling the world’s biggest problems.”

Mr. Milken then talked about his work in more detail, citing projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, with its young and constantly growing population, as one of a good example of the strategic thinking required to address systemic and comprehensive issues. “You can see what the world needs. Are we going to have a billion twelve to eighteen-year-olds who have machine guns or are we going to have empowered entrepreneurs?” asked Mr. Milken. “And if you can see where the world is going… part of this conference is to try to get the world to see where it’s going and figure out how we’re going to create the platforms that would change the course of history.”

The conversation was followed by the Tribute to the 2024 Aurora Humanitarians.