Atrium Health and Wake Forest University School of Medicine Cancer Program Appoint New Director

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Atrium Health recently announced that Ruben A. Mesa, MD, FACP, has been named President and Executive Director of its cancer service line—which includes both Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center—and Vice Dean for Cancer Programs at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Dr. Mesa will assume the roles filled by Derek ­Raghavan, MD, PhD, FACP, FRACP, FASCO, who had previously announced his mid-January 2023 retirement, following a long-standing and impactful career with Atrium Health, and by William Blackstock, MD, Professor and Chair of Radiation Oncology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who has served as Interim Director of Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center since February 2022.

Dr. Mesa will advance the growth and development of the health system’s National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center and the entire cancer service line. He will be responsible for all aspects of the cancer program, including clinical operations; research; education; community outreach; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

A Leader in Hematology Research

Dr. Mesa currently serves as Executive Director of the NCI-designated Mays Cancer Center at The University of Texas (UT) Health San Antonio MD Anderson and Professor of Medicine at UT Health Science Center San Antonio. He is an internationally known expert who has dedicated his career to research and drug development for myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Over the past 11 years, Dr. Mesa has led or co-led the development of six drugs that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for chronic leukemias. He has been Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator for more than 100 cancer clinical trials, including numerous global phase III trials.

Dr. Mesa’s accomplishments during his tenure at UT Health San ­Antonio include leading the planning and design of a new research specialty hospital to focus on cancer, integrating cancer prevention and screening practice and research activities, and expanding oversight for Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (one of only two institutes in the country dedicated solely to pediatric cancer research).

Promoting Health Equity

In addition to his extensive research and clinical practice, Dr. Mesa is dedicated to advancing cancer health equity and increasing minority patients’ participation in cancer clinical trials. As one of the first Latino directors of an NCI-designated cancer center, he helped implement an innovative process that has led to increased diversity among clinical trial volunteers at Mays Cancer Center.

Dr. Mesa is an NCI-funded investigator on several myeloproliferative neoplasms projects and has been appointed to the NCI Clinical Trial Advisory Committee. Dr. Mesa serves in a variety of leadership roles with the American Society of Hematology and the American Association of Cancer Research, and he is currently elected to the boards of the American Association of Cancer Institutes and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.