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Summer 2003 CalBusiness  
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Keeping Healthcare Research Alive and Well

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 and distribution.

“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 at Berkeley.”

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.”

—Marguerite Rigoglioso

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Gail Maderis
Gail Maderis
BS 78

President, Genzyme Molecular Oncology,
Boston, MA
 
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