Under leadership of Clay Siegall, Seattle Genetics soars in the cancer drug space

Clay Siegall has become one of the nation’s foremost cancer researchers and drug industry CEOs. Over the course of a career spanning more than 30 years, Dr. Siegall has been instrumental in the development of many different types of targeted cancer therapies. He has blazed trails where no one else had even thought to tread, creating some of the most innovative products in cancer treatment of the last few decades.

After graduating with an MS from the University of Maryland in biology and a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Siegall was hired by the National Cancer Institute as a junior researcher. While there, Dr. Siegall began working on an entirely new class of drugs called targeted cancer therapies. This was in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when this class of drugs was almost completely unknown and in its most nascent stages of development. Dr. Clay Siegall quickly became a standout researcher, developing novel processes by which cancer drugs can be synthesized and publishing dozens of papers in his field of research.

It didn’t take long before he was noticed by the big players. After being headhunted by pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall accepted a position as a senior researcher. During his stay at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall began working on a completely new line of targeted cancer therapy drugs called antibody drug conjugates. These are a class of drugs that use synthetic human antibodies to deliver highly lethal cytotoxins, directly to the site of malignant tissues. The idea behind antibody drug conjugates was that they could almost entirely remove the grievous side effects associated with the then-prevailing chemotherapeutic treatment models, while dramatically increasing the amount of drugs that could be administered to patients safely, at any one time.

This would not only make the patient vastly more comfortable than they would have been using older therapies, it would also make the treatment dramatically more effective, yielding the same results in one course of treatment that would have been expected from dozens using the old style of chemotherapeutics agents.

Today, these drugs, developed by Dr. Siegall, are saving thousands of lives each year.