How Dr. Clay Siegall Built Seattle Genetics From The Ground Up

When founding Seattle Genetics, Dr. Clay Siegall wanted to build a company that would create targeted drug therapies using antibody drug conjugates. He runs the company as its chief executive officer where he handles the strategic vision of the company, forms partnerships with other companies in the pharmaceutical industry, and oversees day to day operations.

Clay has a bachelor’s degree in zoology, acquired at The University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in genetics that he earned at George Washington University. He was in research and development for a number of years before founding Seattle Genetics in 1998. When he started Seattle Genetics it was running with basically a skeleton crew of fellow researchers. It is now a much bigger company that employs more than 650 people. They also offer fellowships and internships to up and coming researchers, many of them students at the nearby University of Washington.

In order to research their drugs and bring them to market, Dr. Clay Siegall has formed a number of key strategic partnerships. Among these are some of the biggest corporations in the industry such as Pfizer and Bayer. His company has more than 20 drugs under development and one on the market that provides a cure for lymphoma, Adcetris.

Dr. Clay Siegall firmly believes that targeted drug therapies are much safer and more effective than conventional ways of treating cancer. Conventional methods involve surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation which are very harmful to the body. Targeted therapies, on the other hand, seek out and kill only cancerous cells. They leave normal cells completely alone. He’s excited to be playing such an important role in the advance of medicine as we’re increasingly seeing nowadays.

Seattle Genetics makes money a number of ways, Dr. Siegall says. Selling their own proprietary drugs is, of course, the key money maker. They also earn money by forming production partnerships with other firms in the industry. He licenses technology and processes they have created at Seattle Genetics to other companies. He says that creating drugs is a huge risk as only 1 in 10 drugs under development are ever approved. He has formed these partnerships in order to mitigate that.