James Cusack, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist and research scientist at MGH and Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, specializes in locally advanced, recurrent, and metastatic cancer and is committed to global health equity.


Surgical Oncology


Centers & Specialties

Cancer Center

Digestive Healthcare Center

Clinical Interests
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Peritoneal carcinomatosis
  • Liver metastases
  • Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Molecular targeted therapies
  • Global surgery
Medical Education
  • MD, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Tufts Medical Center
  • Fellowship, University of Texas - MD Anderson Cancer Center
Board Certifications
  • Surgery
  • Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Waltham: Mass General West
Insurances Accepted
  • Aetna Health Inc.
  • Beech Street
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Blue Care 65
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Indemnity
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Managed Care
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Partners Plus
  • Centene/Celticare
  • Cigna (PAL #'s)
  • Fallon Community HealthCare
  • Great-West Healthcare (formally One Health Plan)
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan - ACD
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan - PBO
  • Health Care Value Management (HCVM)
  • Humana/Choice Care PPO
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Medicare - ACD
  • Neighborhood Health Plan - ACD
  • Neighborhood Health Plan - PBO
  • OSW - Connecticut
  • OSW - Maine
  • OSW - New Hampshire
  • OSW - Rhode Island
  • Private Health Care Systems (PHCS)
  • Railroad Medicare
  • Railroad Medicare - ACD
  • Senior Whole Health
  • TriCare
  • Tufts Health Plan
  • Unicare
  • United Healthcare (non-HMO) - ACD
  • United Healthcare (non-HMO) - PBO
Patient Age Group

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James Cusack, MD, FACS, is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Emory University Medical School who trained in surgery at Tufts-New England Medical Center. He completed a Research Fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Surgical Oncology Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. In 2000 he joined the staff at Massachusetts General, the faculty of Harvard Medical School, and the consulting staff at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At Massachusetts General, he is Director of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy (HIPEC) Program and Surgical Oncology Laboratories. He served on the Executive Council of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) and was Chair of the SSO Scientific Program Committee. He also served on the American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Symposium Program Committee.

Among Dr. Cusack's awards for his patient care are Boston Super Doctors, Boston Top Doctors, The MGH One Hundred, America's Top Surgeons, America's Top Doctors for Cancer, and Patients' Choice Award.

The Cusack Laboratory has made landmark contributions to the understanding of molecular mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance. Since 1995 Dr. Cusack's research has been funded by NIH, American Cancer Society, biotech, and his patients. Ongoing research topics are biomarkers of resistance and new targets for therapeutic intervention in colorectal and appendiceal cancer, melanoma, and Merkel Cell carcinoma. His bibliography lists over 70 publications, and he serves on numerous editorial boards.

Dr. Cusack is the Director of the MGH Global Surgery Initiative and Co-Chair of the MGH Cancer Center Global Health Committee. He leads the MGH Cancer Care Initiative in Mbarara, Uganda, and is committed to improving access to affordable surgical treatment and multidisciplinary cancer care in resource-limited settings, especially the East African Community.

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Research & Publications

Research Summary
The Cusack Laboratory has made landmark contributions to the field of molecular therapeutics, advancing the understanding of chemotherapy resistance within cancer cells. Dr. Cusack is Director of the Surgical Oncology Laboratories at the Massachusetts General Hospital. His two most cited papers in Nature Medicine 1999 and Cancer Research 2001 describe the inhibition of the transcription factor NF-kappaB to overcome inducible chemotherapy resistance. Dr. Cusack is co-inventor of the patent that describes this therapeutic strategy, now licensed to two pharmaceutical companies for drug development. He recently defined the role of HB-EGF, a downstream target of NF-kappaB in cancer resistance. Based on this work, he developed a new cancer treatment with scientists in Japan. Ongoing areas of investigation include the development of targeted therapeutic approaches to overcome resistance mechanisms in melanoma, rectal cancer, and Merkel Cell carcinoma. His bibliography lists over 70 publications, and he continues to serve on numerous editorial boards. Dr. Cusack's laboratory has been funded since 1995 by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, biotech collaborators, and his patients.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Cusack Laboratory, please call 617-726-3618.

View my most recent publications at PubMed

Wang C-Y, Cusack JC, Liu R, Baldwin AS. Control of inducible chemoresistance: enhanced anti-tumor therapy through increased apoptosis by inhibition of NF-kappaB. Nat Med 1999;5(4):412-7.

Regenbogen S, Cusack JC. Advances in the surgical technique for primary rectal cancer. In:Therapeutic approaches to localized rectal cancer: current colorectal cancer reports. Current Science 2005; 1(1):43-50.

Santamaria-Barria JA, Boland GM, Yeap BY, Nardi V, Dias-Santagata D, Cusack JC. Merkel Cell Carcinoma: 30-year experience from a single institution. Ann Surg Onc 2013;20(4):1365-73.

Chao TE, Riesel JN, Anderson GA, Mullen JT, Doyle J, Briggs SM, Lillemoe KD, Goldstein C, Kitya D, Cusack JC. Building a Global Surgery Initiative Through Evaluation, Collaboration, and Training: The Massachusetts General Hospital Experience. J Surg Educ. 2015 Jul-Aug; 72(4):e21-8.

Cercek A, MD, Cusack JC, Ryan DP. Treatment of Peritoneal Carcinomatosis of Colorectal Origin. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2015; 35:e208-11. PMID:25993175

Riesel JN, Mandingo M, Gillies R, Damuse R, Farmer PE, Cusack JC, Krakauer EL, Shulman L. Surgical Palliative care in resource-limited settings. Lancet, 2015 386(9993):527, 8 August. PMID:25924837

Chan CHF, Cusack, JC, Ryan DP. A critical look at local-regional management of peritoneal metastasis. Hem Onc Clinics N Am 2015 Feb; 29 (1):153-58.

Erstad DJ, Tumusiime G, Cusack JC. Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer: Implications for the Clinical Surgeon. Ann Surg Oncol Oct;22(11):3433-50

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News & Events

  • Mass General is pioneering advances in global surgery

    The Department of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital is working with the Mass General Center for Global Health to help strengthen health care infrastructure in developing countries and provide medical and surgical care to those in need.

  • Exploring opportunities to expand cancer care

    The MGH Cancer Center recently sent a team to the city of Mbarara in southwestern Uganda to explore a collaboration with the local university and hospital to build a new national referral cancer center.

  • Mass General and NCAA coaches promote colorectal cancer screening

    Massachusetts General Hospital is partnering with the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, and Coaches vs. Cancer to promote screening and treatment for colorectal cancer.

  • MGH Cancer Center staff visit Kazakhstan

    MGH Hotline 12/05/08: A multidisciplinary team from the MGH Cancer Center recently traveled to Kazakhstan's capitol Astana to work with the city's Department of Health to improve the oncology services at a local hospital.


Surgical Oncology Associates
55 Fruit Street
Boston MA, 02114-2696
Phone: 617-724-4093617-724-4000
Fax: 617-724-3895
Mass General West
52 Second Avenue
Waltham MA, 02451
Phone: 781-487-6100
Fax: 781-487-6201

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