Q&A with Dr. Ruben Mesa
Dr. Ruben Mesa on his move to Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center
MPN patients are asking about your recent move from MD Anderson to Levine Cancer Center/Wake Forest Health. How would you describe the impact of your move?
I am excited to be joining two wonderful MPN teams already well established – in Charlotte led by Dr. Michael Grunwald and Alek Chojecki, MD at Levine Cancer Institute, and at Wake Forest Baptist by Dr. Rupali Bhave and Anne Wofford. These two groups have led many MPN clinical trials, and at Wake been members of the MPN Research Consortium (led by Dr. Ron Hoffman at Mt Sinai School of Medicine in New York).
I have joined the group as the overall leader of the now integrated Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center (combines both Levine Cancer Institute and legacy Wake Forest) . . . working with the MPN team to function as one multi-campus MPN team bringing MPN research and access to clinical trials to the entire region of western North Carolina and northern South Carolina. Additionally, as president of our cancer service line, now Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, we aim to bring MPN trials across other parts of our system (to Georgia) and with colleagues to the Midwest.
Is this filling an unmet patient need in the region or nationally?
Nationally, the efforts to diversify clinical trials (have them match our populations) in MPNs is rudimentary compared to many other diseases. We aim to better understand and impact health inequities for MPN patients in underserved African American, Latino, and Native American populations in our communities through engagement with partners, the reach of our multi-site center, and partnering with trial sponsors and the MPN Research Consortium.
Would you describe how your new position impacts more clinicians and researchers and therefore ultimately patients?
I hope that my role both for Atrium Health, and now the larger Advocate Health, that oversees efforts for all cancers, helps elevate the awareness and focus of the needs for MPN patients that sometimes are not viewed as a priority at certain cancer centers where the more common solid tumors can sometimes dominate the focus of energy and resources. MPNs are a model disease for chronic and rare diseases, as diseases increase in prevalence with the aging of our population, as diseases in which advances can have implications for many groups.