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Clay Siegall, A Pioneer in Targeted Cancer Therapies


As the CEO of Seattle Genetics, Dr. Clay Siegall knows that the work he and his firm do can literally save lives. He leads a biotech firm that works tirelessly to improve the mortality rates in diseases that have not seen any improvement in literally years. What makes Siegall and his firm tick? In order to answer that question, he recently sat down for an interview with InspireRy.

Siegall has had notable success with Seattle Genetics since its founding in 1998, including the development of the first antibody drug conjugate and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer, Genentech and Pfizer. The first question posed to him was simply regarding how he got started in the business, and he answered in a typical humble fashion:

Simply put, he said he got interested in cancer research while studying zoology at the University of Maryland. After a family member got stricken with cancer, he noticed how their treatment regimen was exceedingly brutal. He decided to change his course of study after this family member almost died from the chemotherapy alone.

The next question the interviewer wanted to know was how Seattle Genetics was profitable. Siegall noted how they make a lot of money through the selling of their anitbody drug and how they are able to raise capital through production partnerships and the licensing of technologies.

Clay Siegall noted how getting drugs approved was an extremely long, time consuming, expensive and risky process. Is it worth it? According to Siegall and many others it is. Of course, Siegall noted how you really don’t go into this business in order to make money, which led to the next question:

How long did it take for Seattle Genetics to become profitable?

According to Dr. Siegall, the company did not become profitable until at least ten years after their IPO. Siegall also noted how their were several times in 1999 and 2000 where things got a little difficult and he thought the company would fail. However, the one thing that sets him apart is his work ethic. His answer to hard times? Simply batten down the hatches and get back to work!

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