Dr. Ruben A. Mesa leads Atrium Health’s mission and programs against cancer as president, Atrium Health Levine Cancer; executive director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center; vice dean for cancer programs and professor of medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine; and senior vice president for Atrium Health. In these roles, Mesa oversees all efforts related to cancer practice, research and education across the Atrium Health system. Mesa previously was the executive director of the NCI-designated Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson from 2017-2023 where he developed and grew the cancer service line, co-led the development and construction of a new cancer focused hospital, grew cancer faculty, peer reviewed funded research and successful renewed the NCI designation in 2020. Earlier in his career Mesa practiced hematology at Mayo Clinic (in Minn. from 2002-2009 and Ariz. from 2009-2017) where he was chair of Hematology & Medical Oncology and deputy director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Mesa is an international expert in hematologic cancers, who has dedicated his life’s work to research and drug development for myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), a group of chronic leukemias that can cause difficult symptoms, bone marrow problems, acute leukemia and premature death. He has been involved in MPN research for more than 20 years. Mesa’s research focuses on MPN biology, novel therapeutics and over 100 phase I-III clinical trials, symptom assessment tools (led the development of the globally utilized MPN Symptom Assessment Form and Myelofibrosis Symptom Assessment Form) and non-pharmacological interventions to alleviate MPN symptoms. He has over 800-lifetime medical publications, with more than 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 15 book chapters and two edited books. Mesa is an NCI-funded investigator on several projects in myeloproliferative neoplasms and has been appointed to the NCI Clinical Trial Advisory Committee. He plays a range of leadership roles with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and is currently elected to the Board of the American Association of Cancer Institutes (AACI) and is an executive officer of the board for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mesa has won many career awards for his research from Mayo Clinic, from patient and MPN organizations. Mesa is passionate about advancing cancer health equity and increasing minority patients’ participation in cancer clinical trials. As Deputy Director of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer (2011-2017) he led the Arizona Campus and created partnerships with Maricopa County, and Phoenix Indian Medical System to dually provide cancer care and expand access to clinical trials for underserved populations. As Director of Mays Cancer Center in San Antonio (with a minority-majority population for the catchment area) he co-directed the “Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos” meeting, helped implement a mandate that each new trial at the Mays Cancer Center had a Minority Accrual Plan leading to over 60% minority patient accrual onto clinical trials, and leveraged his leadership of the cancer service line to partner with regional cancer providers to expand access to cancer screening, access to clinical trials, and the first NCI cohort study for Latino Cancer Survivors. Dr. Mesa co-leads the Health Equity Task force for the American Society of Hematology (2022-Present), is the co-chair for the 2024 American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Disparities Progress Report and involved in national initiatives to increase clinical trial diversity as a member of NCI-CTAC (Clinical trial advisory Committee), including being a member of the Genentech Health Disparities Task Force (2018 to present), Bristol Myers Squibb Health Disparities Task Force (and on steering committee of Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program, and the Janssen Health Disparities Task Force. In March 2022, Dr. Mesa testified on the importance of clinical trial diversity before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on legislation which eventually became law at end of 2022.