They say that the events which dominate our formative years play a significant role in shaping our destinies. This story is true for Dr. Clay Siegall, the co-founder, and president of Seattle Genetics. Seattle Genetics is a biotech firm which specializes in developing targeted cancer therapies. When Clay was a teenager, his father was diagnosed with cancer. He watched his father struggle with chemo for six years before he succumbed. During this struggle, Clay decided that he was going to study zoology because he wanted to reduce the pain suffered by cancer patients as a result of chemotherapy. Here is an up close and personal interaction with Clay Siegall.
Clay Siegall confides that he had always had an interest in medicine when he was growing up. It was the harrowing experience that his father went through which made him see that systemic cancer therapies were too much pain. He, therefore, made it his responsibility to ensure that they landed in the historical dustbin, where they belonged. In 1998, he quit his job and started Seattle Genetics with a friend. The firm has survived ups and downs. Clay confides that at times, they didn’t know where funding for the next leg of the research would come from, yet he kept pushing for success.
The first of their antibody-based cancer therapies, ADC was endorsed by the FDA in 2015. The drug gained a lot of popularity and is currently in use in over 80 countries around the world. The sale of their drugs is, therefore, one of the ways that Seattle Genetics makes their money. The process of getting a drug approved is however long and tedious, and it costs the developers a lot of money. It is why Seattle Genetics and all other biotech’s have to keep looking for funding from strategic partners. Clay admits that there was a time when the cash constraints were real, but that taught them to navigate the world of biotechs and keep afloat.
Clay Siegall is a graduate of the University of Maryland where he studied Zoology. He also graduated from the George Washington University with a Ph.D. in genetics.