After earning a B.S. in zoology from The University of Maryland and a doctorate in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Clay Siegall founded Seattle Genetics (SG) in 1998 as a biotech firm specializing in therapy drugs that are designed to target cancer more tolerably and effectively than prior treatments. SG developed ADCetris, the first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate (ADC). ADCs kill only cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. SG has developed over 20 drugs and has partnered with such companies as Bayer, Genentech (Roche), GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.
Dr. Clay Siegall became interested in this field when he saw the difficulties inherent in treatments being used at the time, particularly involving his father’s suffering due to cancer. He wanted to start his own business while working at Bristol-Myers Squib where he wished for more autonomy and recognition. He also recognized the benefits he could earn from patents and profits from selling SG’s own, proprietary drugs and from the substantial revenues from production partnerships as well as licensing of technologies and processes that SG developed. SG’s pipeline is designed to address medical needs in such areas as Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, solid tumors, breast cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma.
Dr. Clay Siegall notes how long and expensive a process it is to get drugs approved by the FDA, and cites the huge risk involved, with only some 10% of candidate drugs receiving approval, while the drug maker assumes the full cost. Dr. Siegall also says it took about 10 years for SG to become profitable after the IPO. He credits his sales, legal, and negotiating teams with garnering the 7 to 8 figure deals that SG makes, and claims that success is the result of hard work, passion and focus.
Prior to co-founding Seattle Genetics, Dr. Clay Siegall was with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute from 1991 to 1997 and the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health from 1988 to 1991.