Dr. Clay Siegall Embraces the Challenge of Treating Cancer

At age 19 Clay Siegall’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next five years, he watched cancer slowly take his father’s life. In a recent interview, Siegall reflected on this experience and said: “It made me acutely aware of the limited tools available to oncologists at the time.”

Early Years in Research

Dr. Siegall went on to earn a Ph.D. in genetics from George Washington University. He was with the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health from 1988-1991. In 1991 he moved to Bristol-Myers Squibb. He spent seven years working in its Pharmaceutical Research Department. He credits those years for some of his success when he says, “I could not have had a better experience to prepare me.”

Seattle Genetics and Success of Adcetris

Today Dr. Siegall is President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Seattle Genetics, a company he co-founded in 1998. Seattle Genetics specializes in developing anti-body drug coagulates (ADC). ADC’s attach to the outside of cancer cells and deliver a toxin to the cell that kills them. Typically, it can do so without damaging healthy cells as sometimes happens with radiation and chemotherapy. One ADC developed by the company is Adcetris, which has become its flagship product. Adcetris is used to treat classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that’s at risk of a relapse or progression. Adcetris was approved by the FDA in 2011 and by the European Medicine Agency in 2012. In 2017 Adcetris was approved for use in patients with T-Cell Lymphoma.

Doing Better Every Day

Seattle Genetics now conducts business in 65 countries and Dr. Siegall holds 15 patents. Dr. Siegall continues to lead his company in research and development of cancer treatment therapies. It’s a long way from the young man who watched his father die. Dr. Clay Siegall, however, continues to embrace the challenge with vigor: “My goal in the world is to treat cancer patients and do better than what we’re doing today with targeted drugs, and I love that I wake up every day and I’m excited about it. I’m not just saying that. It’s what I do. I’ve been doing it for30 years.”