About James Cusack, MD

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.

Clinical Interests:




Surgical Oncology Associates
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114-2696
Fax: 617-724-3895

Mass General Waltham
52 Second Avenue
Waltham, MA 02451
Fax: 781-487-6201

Medical Education

  • MD, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Tufts Medical Center
  • Fellowship, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

American Board Certifications

  • Surgery, American Board of Surgery

Accepted Insurance Plans

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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

    Select Publications:

    • Ferreiro-Neira I, Torres, NE, Liesenfeld LF, Chan CHF, Penson T, Landesman Y, Senapedis W, Shacham S, Hong TS and Cusack, JC. XPO1 inhibition enhances radiation response in preclinical models of rectal cancer.  Clin Cancer Res (Published Online First Nov 24, 2015)
    • Erstad DJ, Tumusiime G, Cusack JC. Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer: Implications for the Clinical Surgeon. Ann Surg Oncol 2015 Oct;22(11):3433-50
    • 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.
    • 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 8 August; 386(9993):527.
    • Cercek A, MD, Cusack JC, Ryan DP. Treatment of Peritoneal Carcinomatosis of Colorectal Origin. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2015; 35:e208-11.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Erstad D, Cusack JC. Mutational Analysis of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Cancers. 2014 October; 6:2116-36.