Getting Up Close and Personal with the Founder of Seattle Genetics, Dr. Clay Siegall

One of the favorite quotes from Clay Siegall is that when you in their 20’s, you think they know everything when you get to your 30’s, they realize that you do not know, and by the time you are reaching your 40’s, you do not know much. Clay is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Seattle Genetics. He founded the company in 1998 with the aim of creating the best antibody-based cancer therapies. The main ideas that Clay had in mind when creating Seattle Genetics was the creation of a company which would focus on innovation in science, rigorous research and the desire to help patients.

The first of their drugs, ADCETRIS, was approved by the FDA in 2011 and has been retailing in more than 60 countries. The success of ADC was partly because unlike other cancer therapies; it is an Antibody Drug Conjugate. There is also the business partnership that Seattle genetics Forged with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and one which helped them market their drug outside the country. Dr. Siegall’s leadership has helped the company achieve multiple strategic licenses for the ADC Technology. They include the partnership with Genentech, AbbVie, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline. Clay worked with companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb and The National Cancer Institute before joining Seattle Genetics.

When asked where the idea of Seattle Genetics originated, Clay states that his father’s struggle with cancer was an eye opener for him. He was 19 when his father was diagnosed, and by the time he was 24, his father passed away. Clay says that his father’s struggle with the disease made him realize that the therapies available at the time were too harsh on the already compromised body of the cancer patient. He set out to improve the tools that were available to fight cancer. After getting his Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, he proceeded to the George Washington University where he acquired his Doctorate in Genetics.

Clay says that one of the best things that an entrepreneur can do if they want to grow is to always be thirsty for more information. The success of Seattle Genetics, which is listed on NASDAQ as SGEN, is enough evidence that Clay is a trendsetter in science and entrepreneurship.