Clay Siegall brings expertise to the pharmaceutical boardroom
Clay Siegall first became interested in cancer research while he was still in undergraduate school. A family member had contracted a rare form of cancer that necessitated aggressive treatment through surgery and chemotherapy. At one point they nearly died from the chemotherapy itself, after they developed a severe case of anemia secondary to an infusion of cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
This event opened Dr. Siegall’s eyes, making him question how a disease could be treated, when the treatments often are worse than the disease itself. He decided that he would focus his studies on becoming a cancer researcher. After receiving an MS from the University of Maryland in biology, he applied to post graduate school at George Washington University. Eventually, he would graduate with a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, being hired on quickly by the National Cancer Institute, one of the most prestigious research organizations in the world for cancer.
While at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Siegall began working on a highly innovative new class of drugs that were just coming out at that time. Known as targeted cancer therapies, the idea behind these drugs was to target the individual cancer cells, thus dramatically reducing the horrible side effects seen with systemic infusions of chemotherapy. This new form of drugs also promised to supplant radiation, a popular adjunct therapy then being used for refractory cases of cancer, those that were not responding well to first-line chemotherapies.
Dr. Clay Siegall spent approximately four years at the National Cancer Institute, before being recruited by pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. He was wooed over to Bristol-Myers Squibb by offers of a significant pay raise and becoming a senior researcher, leading a team in whatever direction he chose to go in. While add Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall begin working on a then completely novel form of targeted cancer therapy known as antibody drug conjugates. This new class of drugs used synthetic human antibodies to deliver a highly lethal cytotoxin directly to the site of the tumor. This promised to nearly completely eliminate all side effects that were previously associated with chemotherapy. It also dramatically increased the therapeutic window, allowing for massive doses of cytotoxin to be delivered directly to the malignant cells.