Executive Team


Hong Cai, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

  • Ph.D. University of Southern California (1995)

  • Staff Scientist, Los Alamos National Lab, (1995-2009)

  • Over 20 years of experience in molecular bioassay development

Dr. Cai has more than 20 years of experience in the field of molecular biology and is the inventor of the technology used in Mesa Biotech’s point-of-use nucleic acid-based diagnostic platform. As the CEO/President, she manages business operations with a primary focus on transitioning R&D efforts into product development. Prior to establishing Mesa Biotech, Dr. Cai spent 13 years as a principal investigator at Los Alamos National Laboratory, managing and leading projects (totaling more than $10 million) focused on the development of nucleic acid-based assays for forensic analysis, biothreat pathogen detection, and human disease diagnosis, including single nucleotide polymorphism-based genotyping, single fragment sizing-based DNA forensic analysis, and a variety of PCR, RT-PCR and isothermal amplification-based nucleic acid tests for human disease diagnosis.


R. Bruce Cary, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer

  • Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder (1994)

  • Staff Scientist, Los Alamos National Lab (1995-2009)

  • Over 20 years of nucleic acid array and assay development

Dr. Cary is the inventor of the lateral flow microarray and the passive buffer exchange nucleic acid purification technologies that are the basis for the Mesa Biotech’s point-of-use molecular diagnostic platform. As CSO, he leads projects for the development of rapid molecular tests and diagnostics for infectious disease, food safety, agricultural and human pathogens. Prior to co-founding Mesa Biotech, he spent 13 years as a principal investigator and scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, leading projects focused on biodefense, pathogen detection, nucleic acid metabolism and microarray gene expression technology.


Tom Willardson, Chief Financial Officer

  • MBA University of Southern California (1978)

  • Former CFO of Sapphire Energy, Aurora Algae, Energy Recovery, Cost Plus World Market, and WebSideStory

  • Over 30 years of finance related experience including 3 successful IPOs and small and large capital raises in a variety of industries

Mr. Willardson joined the Company as CFO in April 2016, bringing more than 30 years of experience in leading financial initiatives for public and privately held companies. Most recently, Mr. Willardson was CFO of Sapphire Energy, a venture-backed company that is considered the world leader in commercial-scale production of algae for products ranging from Omega-3 dietary supplements to crude oil for transport fuels. Previously, he was CFO of Aurora Algae (venture-backed producer of algae-derived products for the pharmaceutical, nutritional, aquaculture, and fuel markets), Energy Recovery (having lead the IPO initiative of this developer of energy saving devices for the desalination and other industrial processes), Cost Plus World Market (having served as a member of the board of directors for 14 years and CFO after leaving the board of this large specialty retail chain), and WebSideStory (having lead the IPO initiative of this leading software company that pioneered a cloud-based analytics eventually purchased by Adobe). Mr. Willardson’s experience includes 14 years with the Bechtel Corporation family of companies including Bechtel’s private investment company and Bechtel Enterprises


John Monroe, Senior Vice President of Operations

  • B.S. San Diego State University (1979)

  • Over 30 years of experience in IVD product development and commercialization

  • Former executive at Alere, Dako, and Quidel

Mr. Monroe joined the company in 2016 bringing >30 years of experience in operations, manufacturing, process development and procurement and inventory management. He is a health care industry veteran having lead teams at companies that include Alere, Dako, and Quidel. While at Alere, Mr. Monroe built and integrated operational organizations and was responsible for leading an operations group that produced 30 million units per year and introduced process improvements that saved $3.5 million. While Vice President of Technical operations at Dako, Mr. Monroe successfully transferred over 20 products from R&D to operations for commercialization. In roles at Metrika, Alastin and Quidel, Mr. Monroe managed OEM relationships and operations and successfully brought many new products to market. His depth of experience in scaling operations and manufacturing for commercialization and production, his leadership in process improvement, and his experience in lateral flow are ideal for Mesa Biotech.


Steven Sepulveda, VP Global Bus. Dev. & Channel Mgmt

  • Extensive commercial experience with Sekisui, Horiba Medical, Beckman Coulter, and Quidel

  • >26 years of combined experience in business development, in vitro diagnostic sales, and channel management

  • Graduate of University of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus

Mr. Sepulveda joins Mesa Biotech with over 26 years of commercial experience in business development, in vitro diagnostic sales and distribution global channel management. He got his start in the industry with Quidel Corporation in sales and later advanced into business development and corporate accounts. Mr. Sepulveda has held leadership positions with increasing responsibilities leading sales organizations domestically and internationally, overseeing joint ventures, and developing distribution management in health systems. Mr. Sepulveda served as board member at the Health Industry Distribution Association’s Education Foundation, on the Laboratory Advisory Council and as an industry panel speaker.  He was most recently with Sekisui as Head of Sales and Corporate Alliances for the Americas


Don Thomas, VP Engineering & Product Development

  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering – Cal Poly, SLO

  • Over 25 years of experience in product development spanning telecommunications, robotics, molecular and cell-based biotechnology

  • Former engineering leader at ACEA Biosciences and Nanogen

Mr. Thomas brings > 25 years of experience in Product Development, in diverse industries including telecommunications, robotics, and biotechnology. He has a successful track record leading cross-disciplinary teams in development of both molecular and cell-based assay systems. He led an engineering group at Nanogen developing various molecular research systems involving their lab-on-a-chip technology. Prior to Mesa Biotech, he was Sr. Director of Engineering at ACEA Biosciences, where he was responsible for the development and launch of their portfolio of cell monitoring systems utilizing impedance spectroscopy. Mr. Thomas holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.