Most people in the biotech industry recognize the name Clay Siegall immediately. After a career of more than 30 years developing some of the most cutting-edge treatments for cancer, Dr. Siegall has made a name for himself as one of the nation’s leading cancer researchers as well as a major player in the biotech space. After having founded his own firm, Seattle Genetics, which is dedicated solely to the development of a class of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates, he has achieved legendary status in the cancer research and development industry.
But Dr. Clay Siegall did not even always know that he would like to dedicate his life to finding better treatments for one of the deadliest diseases humanity has ever known. In fact, until a family member became ill with cancer while he was still an undergraduate school, Dr. Siegall did not even consider becoming a cancer researcher. During his family member’s ordeal, the individual developed severe anemia and nearly died. This was not due to the cancer itself but instead was due to the brutality of the chemotherapeutic drugs with which their cancer was being treated. This incident led Siegall to believe that there must be a better way of treating cancer than the old school chemotherapeutic regime, which so often left people crippled or clinging to life by thread.
Shortly after receiving a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Siegall was hired by the National Cancer Institute, one of the most prominent research institutions in America. He worked there for four years, researching various classes of drugs probably contained under the umbrella of targeted cancer therapy. From there he was hired by Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he worked for a period of almost one decade.
While at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall reached the level of senior researcher, leading his own team of scientists and developing some of the most cutting-edge targeted cancer therapy processes that ever been seen. One of these used synthetic human antibodies in order to specifically target malignant tissues and deliver a highly lethal cytotoxin directly to the surface of the tumor. Dr. Siegall called this new class of drugs antibody drug conjugates. In animal trials, antibody drug conjugates were highly successful in reducing or even eliminating all malignant tissues. Dr. Siegall recognized these drugs had enormous potential to save the lives of thousands of human patients.
He left Bristol-Myers Squibb and formed his own company, Seattle Genetics. After working for more than a decade at Seattle Genetics, building the company from scratch into a major powerhouse of cancer research, the company received FDA approval, for the first time ever, for an antibody drug conjugate.