The Road to Palm Springs
Clay B. Siegall, PhD
President and CEO
Seattle Genetics, Inc.
In 1984, following a five-year battle with cancer, Dr. Clay Siegall’s father passed away. Though he was treated by excellent physicians with access to the latest treatments, chemotherapy had limited efficacy and considerable toxicity. Dr. Siegall set out to find a way to target just tumor cells and spare normal cells.
After post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute, he joined Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), first in Connecticut and then in Seattle. When BMS decided to close its Seattle operations, Dr. Siegall co-founded Seattle Genetics. It was a brave move: a recent study found that the overall success rate for new drugs from Phase I to FDA approval is less than 9%.
But Seattle Genetics proved the exception. The company’s early work provided important insight that informed future developments, including a next-generation proprietary antibody drug conjugate (ADC) technology. ADC allowed scientists to attach a potent anticancer agent to an antibody that would seek out tumors. Later named ADCETRIS, the drug proved effective in treating lymphoma and received FDA approval in 2011.
Seattle Genetics was the only biotech to launch a successful IPO in 2001. Since co-founding the company 14 years ago, Dr. Siegall has secured more than $675 million, and his strategy has yielded multiple capital streams: equity financing, product partnering and technology. Seattle Genetics has collaborations and co-development agreements around ADCs with leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.