Clay B. Siegall, in an interview with IdeaMensch, shared some of his thoughts on his life and on Seattle Genetics, which he founded. When asked on what brought him to found Seattle Genetics, he said that watching his father’s struggle with cancer from when Clay Siegall was nineteen years old until his father’s death when he was twenty four years old brought him to the realization that there are few tools available for oncologists, so he set out to help them. He earned a doctorate in genetics from George Washington University and worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb in their Pharmaceutical Research Institute for many years. His goal is to treat cancer and do better than what we are doing now.
You see, Seattle Genetics develops drugs and cures that weren’t previously around. For example, they developed ADCETRIS® (brentuximab vedotin), which is a global brand that is approved in sixty five countries around the world and is used to cure cancer.
For entrepreneurs, Clay says that you should always be learning. You think you know everything when you’re twenty years old, but you realize later that you don’t, so always interact with people and learn. One business strategy that has helped Seattle Genetics grow is the way they interact and work with other businesses. For example, they entered into many strategic alliances for Seattle Genetics’ ADC technology, including with Genentech.
As mentioned, before founding Seattle Genetics, Dr. Clay worked at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute. This was from 1991 to 1997. Before that, he worked at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health from 1988 to 1991. He is on the board of directors of many medical companies, including Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, Alder BioPharmaceuticals and Washington Roundtable. He has received many awards. For example, he has received the award of University of Maryland Alumnus of the Year for Computer, Math and Natural Sciences in 2013, and the Pacific Northwest Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2012. He holds fifteen patents and has authored over seventy publications. He has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, besides his genetics degree.