Seattle Genetic is a biotech firm which began operations in 1998 as a very small business with a few researchers. The company has grown into an industry giant of cancer research under the direction of its founder and CEO, Dr. Clay Siegall, specifically targeted therapies. Seattle Genetic partners with some of the biggest, most well known manufacturers; Pfizer and Bayer among them, and they have 20 plus drugs in development, which includes the first FDA approved antibody drug conjugate. The company has a bright future as they are continuously expanding their portfolio and indications of the existing one. Dr. Siegall is convinced the longtime use of chemotherapy to treat cancer will eventually be replaced by the more endurable and beneficial targeted therapies.
Dr. Siegall details his start in the business and what inspired him by explaining his interest in medicine, the power of technology, and watching a family member go through chemotherapy for cancer treatment. He was a zoology student at the University of Maryland when he discovered an interest in cancer treatment. He learned of various treatments, some of which necessitated surgery, like amputation. He wanted to find a better way as well as gaining the control of being his own boss. He grew tired of the limitations while working at Bristol-Myers, where he was employed from 1991-1997 as a senior researcher. He also wanted more control, ownership and profits from his patents, and recognition for all his hard work.
Generating revenue is crucial in just about every type of business but especially so in this industry. Dr. Siegall explains the moneymaking process and the huge risks involved, as only 1 in 10 contending drugs get approval and the drug manufacturer pays for everything. Obtaining FDA approval is a lengthy and expensive process but when that one drug is approved and a feasible market is found, a lot of money can be made. The company also makes money from production partnerships and technologies and processes they’ve developed. They started making a profit 10 years after the first public offering and their products are unique and sells themselves for the most part.
Dr. Siegall credits hard work for all his success. He likens it to a letter written by Charles Darwin to his cousin where he says the only difference between men is work habits and everything else, including intellect is secondary.
Dr. Siegall is also the the President of Seattle Genetics and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Under his guidance, Seattle Genetics has created a varied pipeline of cancer therapies, including ADCETRIS (brentuximab vedotin) that was given expedited approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Over the years, Dr. Siegall has managed to raise more than $675 million, including Seattle Genetics’ first public offering.
Dr. Siegall was employed by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health from 1988 to 1991. He’s a Board member of Alder BioPharmaceuticals, a private biotechnology company. He’s authored more than 70 publications and is the holder of 15 patents. He received a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland and a PH.D. in Genetics from George Washington.