Health/Life Sciences

Life sciences information: Seagen CEO resigns after arrest, cautious optimism for biotech, and extra

Hans Bishop (left), chairman of Sana Biotechnology, interviewed by Sana CEO Steve Harr at the Life Science Innovation Northwest event last month. (Red Box Pictures Photo / Scott Eklund)

Here’s a rundown of the top life sciences and health news across the Pacific Northwest this week.

Seagen CEO resigns after domestic violence arrest: Clay Siegall resigned as CEO and chairman of Seagen in the midst of domestic violence allegations, more than 24 years after he co-founded the publicly traded company.

Q&A with Providence’s new digital chief: We spoke with Sara Vaezy, who recently took over to lead the health system’s Digital Innovation Group, to get her take on spinning out startups and the future of health tech.

Cautious optimism for biotech amidst stock market rout: Publicly traded biotech companies are shedding programs and laying off workers as their valuations sink, but some trends support a more positive outlook. Biotech vet Hans Bishop and other speakers at the Life Science Innovation Northwest event weighed in, along with Ernst & Young partner Richard Ramko.

Economic impact of global health in Washington state, from a recent report by Washington Global Health Alliance. (WGHA Image)

More life sciences and health news:

Biotech boards stay the course:

  • Zymeworks rejected a $733 million takeover bid by a tech-focused investment firm. The firm spiced up its bid with a proposed board that includes Pulitzer prize-winning science writer and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee.
  • An activist shareholder at Athira Pharma suspended his campaign to put himself and an associate on the board with the aim of replacing the CEO. Shareholders put the final nail in the campaign this week, approving the company’s nominees to the board instead.

Clinical trials:

  • Neoleukin Therapeutics announced that its first patient was dosed in a study of NL-201, its therapeutic candidate for solid tumors, in combination with Merck’s Keytruda. NL-201 is a fully engineered agent designed by the Seattle company to tweak the immune system.
  • Seattle-based Chinook Therapeutics presented data on two candidate therapies for kidney disease in phase 1/2 and phase 2 trials. Both candidates were well-tolerated and had an effect on proteinuria, elevated levels of protein in the blood indicating kidney damage.
  • Victoria, B.C.-based Aurinia Pharmaceuticals also presented data on an ongoing trial, showing long-term safety and tolerability of its agent designed to treat kidney damage in patients with Lupus.

Public health:

  • Washington Global Health Alliance recently released a report tracking jobs, wages, funding and the economic impact of the sector in Washington state. 196 organizations work in global health, employing more than 16,000 people.
  • Starbucks joined Amazon, Microsoft and other Seattle-area companies in covering travel expenses for employees seeking abortions.
  • PATH supported a COVID-19 vaccination campaign reaching nearly 65,000 people in a remote area of Bangladesh. The Seattle nonprofit described the effort in a post.

Science spotlights:

  • The inner workings of the lab of David Baker, head of University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, are explored in a feature by Endpoints News.
  • Chemical & Engineering News features the fast-growing area of antibody-drug conjugates, a class of therapies pioneered by Bothell, Wash.-based Seagen. Thirty such agents entered clinical trial in 2021.


Sat, May 21: UW Aquatic Sciences’ open house features family-friendly and hands-on activities. Learn about corals, whales, fish and “what is on the bottom of Puget Sound.”

Tue, May 23: Life Science Washington hosts the first of several career development workshops on preparing scientists for industry careers.

Wed, May 25: Fred Hutch hosts a noon “Science Says” hour focused on precision oncology, followed by an afternoon of talks by women leaders in cancer research.  

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