Fireside Chat with Avak Kahvejian

Avak Kahvejian, PhD
Flagship Pioneering

“Institutional Entrepreneurial Innovation: Fireside Chat with Avak Kahvejian, Flagship Pioneering”

Thursday, April 15, 4-5pm (ET)



At this Fireside Chat, TRB Director Mark Grinstaff will interview Dr. Avak Kahvejian. The content of this interview will be based on audience interests. When you register for this event, you will have an opportunity to choose questions and topics you want Dr. Kahvejian to address. With your help, we can design an engaging event that answers your questions and provides the specific insights you are looking to acquire.


Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D. is a life sciences inventor, entrepreneur, and CEO. Since 2011, he has been a partner at Flagship Pioneering, where he leads a team to invent and launch new therapeutic platforms. His work has led to the creation of multiple high-value public and private companies including Cygnal Therapeutics (pioneering new drugs that target neuronal pathways for the treatment of cancer, and autoimmune/inflammation disorders); Codiak BioSciences (developing engineered exosome therapeutics as cancer treatments); Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY); developing Red Cell Therapeutics, engineered red blood cells capable of providing potent and prolonged therapy for rare diseases, cancer and autoimmunity; and Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB); the first microbiome therapy platform. At Cygnal, Dr. Kahvejian served as founding president and CEO from 2017 until the end of 2018, and currently serves as Chief Innovation Officer, leading the establishment and application of a neuronal biology platform for target and drug discovery in the fields of oncology and immunology. At Rubius, Dr. Kahvejian served as founding President and CEO from 2013 to 2017, and then as CIO until the end of 2018. There he established the Rubius Erythrocyte Design (RED)™ platform and conceived and developed dozens of Red Cell Therapeutics (RCTs)™ spanning a range of therapeutic modalities including enzyme therapies, immuno-oncology and oncology therapies, and tolerogenic drugs. Dr. Kahvejian also serves as a board member at Codiak and as CEO of multiple FlagshipLabs companies including Cellarity, Ring, FL50, and FL56. Prior to Flagship, he was VP of Business Development at Helicos BioSciences, which developed and commercialized the world’s first single molecule DNA sequencer.

Dr. Kahvejian serves on the board of the International Institute of New England, an institution which creates opportunities for refugees and immigrants to succeed through resettlement, education, career advancement and pathways to citizenship. He is also on the board of the Canadian Entrepreneurs of New England, an organization dedicated to assisting Canadian entrepreneurs build ties with the Boston life sciences and technology ecosystems. Dr. Kahvejian earned his Ph.D. and B.Sc. in Biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Follow Avak on Twitter: @AvakK and on Instagram @avakava

Past TRB Seminars

  • October 29, 2020 – Saurabh Saha, MD-PhD, then Senior Vice President R&D and Global Head of Translational Medicine, Bristol-Myers Squibb, “Precision Medicine: Shaping the Future of Cancer Care.” (Currently Chief Executive Officer at Centessa Pharmaceuticals)
  • December 16, 2019 – Bohdan Pomahac, MD, Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Distinguished Chair in Surgery and Director, Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Facial Restoration by Transplantation.”
  • November 5, 2019 – Jay Sy, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University, “Multiscale Considerations for Neural Drug Delivery.”
  • February 27, 2018 – Dr. Aaron V. Kaplan, FACC, FSCAI, FNAI, Founding Director, Dartmouth Device Development Symposium: Cardiologist, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth,“The Role of the Clinician Inventor in the Development of Medical Devices.
  • January 24, 2018 – Christina Agapakis, PhD, Creative Director, Gingko Bioworks, The Real World of Biotechnology.”
  • April 26, 2017 – Kartik Mangudi Varadarajan, PhD, Associate Director, Technology Implementation Research Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Instructor in Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School, The Role of Advanced Biomaterials in the Development of Next Generation Joint Replacement Implants.”
  • Feb 8, 2017 – Elliott Gruskin, PhD, R&D Executive, “Translational Research Challenges in Biomaterials: An Industry Perspective.”
  • April 27, 2016 – Keith Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and Materials Science & Engineering, BU, Mesoscopic soft matter: Where top-down meets bottom-up.”
  • Dec 8, 2015 – John Ngo, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, BU, High Resolution Cellular Imaging of Specific Biomolecules and Biomolecular Events.”