Maybe it’s something about being an identical
twin that has led Gail Maderis (BS 78) deep into the
world of genetics and biology. Unlike her molecular
biologist sister, Ann Stock Zakaria, Ph.D., however,
who took straight route into science, Maderis has come
to the field in a more round-about way: through business.
As a consultant and company executive for the past 15
years, she has been intimately involved in bringing
innovative disease-fighting therapies to market.
Maderis currently serves as president of Genzyme Molecular
Oncology, a tracking stock division of Massachusetts-based
Genzyme Corporation. She is working with prominent researchers
to test cancer vaccines that train the body’s
own immune system to attack cancer cells, and antiangiogenic
agents that starve tumors of nutrients they need to
survive. Since founding the business in 1997, Maderis
has been the corporate brain behind the whole operation,
busily coordinating among doctors, venture capitalists,
investors, and pharmaceutical partners to keep the clinical
trials humming and plan for the eventual federal approval
and commercialization of the therapies.
“I’ve always wanted to run my own company,”
says Maderis. “This is a great opportunity because
I’m also making an impact in people’s lives.
Nothing is more gratifying than seeing patients who
are participating in the trials getting better.”
Maderis came to Genzyme eleven years ago as director
of corporate development, and then moved on to become
vice president and business manager of the company’s
research and development program for gene therapy to
treat cystic fibrosis, melanoma, and other serious diseases.
Prior to that, she was a consultant with Bain &
Company, with a specialty in the areas of healthcare
“People skills are absolutely critical in what
I do,” says Maderis, who reports learning her
first lesson in teamwork as an undergraduate at Haas.
“In my organizational behavior class, we actually
had to complete the midterm in randomly assigned groups.
We were shocked at first—especially when we found
out that everyone on the group would be getting the
same grade—but we quickly understood the importance
of working together effectively in a business environment.
That teaching has really stayed with me.” Her
years earning an MBA at Harvard Business School, she
says, “basically just reinforced what I learned
Maderis, who grew up in Kensington, Calif., has adapted
to her new home in the Boston area by picking up cross-country
skiing, but says she comes out West at least once a
year to indulge her lifelong passion for hiking and
backpacking in the Sierras. She also retains ties with
her twin sister, who attended Cal with her as an undergraduate
in biochemistry and who went on to earn her doctorate
in the field at the university, as well. “Interestingly,”
she says, “as business and science become increasingly
integrated, we find that our worlds, which once seemed
so different, are converging.”
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