In these roles, Dr. Mesa oversees all aspects related to cancer practice, research and education across Atrium Health as a system including Wake Forest Baptist, Levine Cancer Institute and all regional sites. He previously directed the NCI-designated Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson from 2017-2023 where he developed the cancer service line, co-led the construction of a new cancer hospital, grew cancer faculty, peer-reviewed funded research and successfully renewed the NCI designation in 2020. Earlier in his career, he 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.
Dr. Mesa is an international expert in hematologic cancers. He 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. His research focuses on MPN biology, novel therapeutics and over 100 phase I-III clinical trials, symptom assessment tools and non-pharmacological interventions to alleviate MPN symptoms. He has authored over 800-lifetime medical publications, with more than 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 15 book chapters and two edited books. Known nationally and internationally, he’s a frequently invited speaker with over 600 lectures. Dr. Mesa has led or co-led the development of six drugs that have been FDA approved for MPNs. He was the inaugural panel chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's (NCCN) guideline panel for the first U.S. guidelines for MPNs.
In addition to his extensive research and clinical practice, Dr. Mesa is passionate about advancing cancer health equity and increasing minority patients' participation in cancer clinical trials. He helped implement a mandate that each new trial at the Mays Cancer Center include a Minority Accrual Plan. He is involved in numerous national initiatives to increase clinical trial diversity, including being a member of the Genentech Health Disparities Task Force, Bristol Myers Squibb Health Disparities Task Force and the Janssen Health Disparities Task Force. In March 2022, he testified on the importance of clinical trial diversity before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
An NCI-funded investigator on several MPNs projects, he has been appointed to the NCI Clinical Trial Advisory Committee. Dr. Mesa is a leader with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), is currently elected to the Board of the American Association of Cancer Institutes (AACI) and is an executive board officer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.