Physician Photo

James C. (James) Cusack, Jr., MD

Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

Director, Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Program (HIPEC)

Director, Global Surgery Initiative

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.

  • Phone: 617-724-4093
Surgical Oncology
Department of Surgery


  • Cancer Center
  • Liver Cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal Cancers
  • Digestive Healthcare Center
  • Liver Center
  • Colorectal Center
Clinical Interests
Colon cancer
Rectal cancer
Peritoneal carcinomatosis
Liver metastases
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
Merkel cell carcinoma
Laparoscopic surgery
Molecular targeted therapies
Global surgery
Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital
Waltham: Mass General West
Medical Education
MD, Emory University School of Medicine
Residency, Tufts Medical Center
Fellowship, University of Texas - MD Anderson Cancer Center
Board Certifications
Surgery, American Board of Surgery
Foreign Languages
Patient Age Group
Accepting New Patients
Accepting New Patients

BiographyJames 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 was also a Research Fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Surgical Oncology Fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center. In 2000 he joined the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital, the faculty of Harvard Medical School, and the consulting staff at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At Mass 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 (2011, 2013); Boston Top Doctors (2010-2014); The One Hundred Honoree MGH (2013); America's Top Surgeons (2012); America's Top Doctors for Cancer (2011-2012, 2014); and Patients' Choice Award (2008-2009, 2011-2012).

The Cusack Laboratory has made landmark contributions to the understanding of molecular mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance within cancer cells. 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 is committed to improving surgical techniques and access to multidisciplinary cancer care in resource-limited settings, including Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, Liberia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines.

ResearchThe 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;vol.1(1):43-50.

Sloss C, Wang F, Liu R, Xia L, Houston M, Ljungman D, Palladino MA, Cusack JC. Proteasome inhibition activates EGFR and EGFR-independent mitogenic kinase signaling pathways in pancreatic cancer cells. Clin Cancer Res 2008;14:5116-23.

Sloss CM, Wang F, Palladino MA, Cusack JC. Activation of EGFR by proteasome inhibition requires heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) in pancreatic cancer cells. Oncogene 2010;29(21):3146-52.

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.

Salas Fragomeni RA, Chung HW, Landesman Y, Senapedis W, Saint-Martin J-R, Tsao H, Flaherty K, Shacham S, Kauffman M, Cusack JC. XPO1 and BRAF inhibition synergize and induce melanoma regression. Mol Cancer Ther 2013;12:1171-79.

Erstad D, Cusack JC. Targeting NF-kappaB signaling in cancer therapy. Surg Oncol Clin N Am 2013;22(4):705-46.

Blaszkowsky LS, Ryan DP, Szymonifka J, Borger DR, Zhu AX, Kwak EL, Mamon HJ, Allen JN, Vasudev E, Shellito PC, Cusack JC, Berger DL, Hong TS. Phase I/II study of neoadjuvant bevacizumab, erlotinib and 5FU with concurrent EBRT in locally advanced rectal cancer. Ann Oncol 2014;25:121-6.

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.

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.

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 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.

Surgical Oncology Associates
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114-2696

Phone: 617-724-4093
Phone 2: 617-724-4000
Fax: 617-724-3895

Mass General West
52 Second Avenue
Waltham, MA 02451

Phone: 781-487-6100
Fax: 781-487-6201