Clay Siegall has become one of the most renowned medical researchers in the United States today. As the CEO and co-founder of Seattle Genetics, the nation’s foremost pharmaceutical company, specializing in antibody drug conjugates, he has distinguished himself as a visionary CEO and a capable business leader. Dr. Siegall’s journey to become one of the most successful pharmaceutical entrepreneurs in the United States was long and winding, taking him through a number of interesting stages that ultimately culminated in the development of one of the most revolutionary forms of cancer drugs synthesized in recent history.
While still at undergraduate school, Dr. Siegall had a family member that got sick with cancer. Throughout the course of the treatment, it became increasingly clear to Dr. Siegall that the treatment seemed to be worse than the disease itself. At one point, Dr. Siegall’s relative developed severe anemia and nearly died. This was not due to the cancer. Instead, it was due to the highly toxic chemotherapy that his relative was receiving. Dr. Siegall thought that there must be a better way to treat cancer.
It was during this time period that he decided to dedicate his life to becoming a cancer researcher and developing new forms of more tolerable and less side-effect-producing chemotherapies. After receiving an MS from the University of Maryland in biology and a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Siegall was eventually hired by the National Cancer Institute. He worked there for four years, developing new forms of a class of drugs known as targeted cancer therapies. These are drugs that go after the malignant tissues themselves, rather than systemically releasing highly lethal cytotoxins into the patient’s bloodstream.
After having distinguished himself as an able researcher at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Siegall was eventually hired by Bristol-Myers Squibb, one of the leading cancer research firms in the world. While at Bristol-Myers Squibb Dr. Clay Siegall began working on a completely novel form of targeted cancer therapy. These drugs had never been synthesized before and were operating on a completely new principle. The idea was to take human antibodies and attach lethal cytotoxins to them so that they would be delivered directly to the site of the tumor. Dr. Siegall called these drugs antibody drug conjugates.
After working for approximately 7 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall decided to strike out on his own. In 1998, he founded Seattle Genetics. Today, Seattle Genetics is the leading antibody drug conjugate producer in the world, helping to save thousands of lives per year.