How Maky Zanganeh has been a guiding force at Pharmacyclics through its ups and downs

Maky Zanganeh, D.D.S., COO, Pharmacyclics, Inc.

Maky Zanganeh, D.D.S., COO, Pharmacyclics, Inc.

NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Life Sciences



Maky Zanganeh, D.D.S.


Pharmacyclics, Inc.


Pharmacyclics, Inc. focuses on the treatment of several cancers and immune mediated diseases, and developed a cancer drug that allows patients through a daily pill to treat their disease without the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

COO Maky Zanganeh has been a guiding force at Pharmacyclics since 2008. In her tenure, Pharmacyclics has been transformed with a drug that has now entered into several phase three trials.

Given this success and the company’s meteoric growth — a market cap of $5.7 billion and hiring three people per day — Zanganeh learned to make quick decisions while applying personal judgment and convictions.

In 2004, Zanganeh personally invested in the company. At that time the stock price was approximately $14. By 2008, the stock dropped to 57 cents. Many would have written off the investment, but Zanganeh had so much faith that she joined the company as vice president of business development.

It wasn’t her first trying situation — she lived through the Iranian Revolution that split her family into different countries after emigration.

When she came to Pharmacyclics, the company had spent more than $300 million on its former lead drug candidate. It was difficult to admit failure and start on a largely new and unproven compound.

However, once management learned the results of the first clinical trial, the company needed to find a partner so the new drug could be available across multiple oncology disease groups more quickly.

Zanganeh examined more 100 deals to find a collaboration that would fit best for the company — leading to a deal with Johnson & Johnson that was heralded as one of the best of 2011.

It was during the deal’s due diligence that Zanganeh flew back and forth from France every couple of days, since her son had been hospitalized. Her dedication to helping people is evident, whether it is her son or one of the countless patients that a new treatment will benefit.

How to reach: Pharmacyclics, Inc.,