Photo of James C. Cusack,  MD

James C. Cusack, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital
Phone: (617) 724-4093
Fax: (617) 724-3895

James C. Cusack, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital


  • Associate Professor, Surgery, Harvard Medical School
  • Associate Visiting Surgeon, Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Consulting Staff, Department of Surgery, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Research Abstract

The Cusack lab focuses on cancer treatment resistance mechanisms and has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1997. Cusack is co-inventor of the patent “Use of NF-kappaB inhibition in combination therapy for cancer,” licensed to two pharmaceutical companies and wrote the first clinical trial of combination chemotherapy with the bortezomib (Velcade) for solid organ malignancies, reported in the journal Cancer. Cusack has presented his research nationally and internationally and has published his findings in Nature Medicine, Cancer Research, and Oncogene.

Cusack serves as Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the Society of Surgical Oncology, member of the Program Committee for the ASCO GI meeting and the ASCO Advanced Clinical Research Awards subcommittee. Cusack also serves on the editorial boards of the Annals of Surgical Oncology, Cancer, and the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology.

Cusack is director of the MGH Division of Surgical Oncology laboratories. Current research projects are evaluating biomarkers of resistance in rectal cancer and Merkel Cell carcinoma and the use of targeted agents against HB-EGF.

Publications from Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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  • Saqlain F, Shalhout SZ, Emerick KS, Kaufman HL, Chen YE, Cusack JC, Wright K, Miller DM. Diagnostic yield of staging brain magnetic resonance imaging is low in Merkel cell carcinoma: A single-institution cohort study. J Am Acad Dermatol 2021. PubMed
  • Furtado FS, Suarez-Weiss KE, Vangel M, Clark JW, Cusack JC, Hong T, Blaszkowsky L, Wo J, Striar R, Umutlu L, Daldrup-Link HE, Groshar D, Rocco R, Bordeianou L, Anderson MA, Mojtahed A, Qadan M, Ferrone C, Catalano OA. Clinical impact of PET/MRI in oligometastatic colorectal cancer. Br J Cancer 2021. PubMed
  • Parikh AR, Van Seventer EE, Siravegna G, Hartwig AV, Jaimovich A, He Y, Kanter K, Fish M, Fosbenner KD, Miao B, Phillips S, Carmichael JH, Sharma N, Jarnagin J, Baiev I, Shah YS, Fetter IJ, Shahzade HA, Allen JN, Blaszkowsky LS, Clark JW, Dubois JS, Franses JW, Giantonio B, Goyal L, Klempner SJ, Nipp RD, Roeland EJ, Ryan DP, Weekes CD, Wo JY, Hong TS, Bordeianou L, Ferrone CR, Qadan M, Kunitake H, Berger D, Ricciardi R, Cusack JC, Raymond VM, Talasaz A, Boland GM, Corcoran RB. Minimal Residual Disease Detection using a Plasma-Only Circulating Tumor DNA Assay in Colorectal Cancer Patients. Clin Cancer Res 2021. PubMed
  • McDuff SGR, Hardiman KM, Ulintz PJ, Parikh AR, Zheng H, Kim DW, Lennerz JK, Hazar-Rethinam M, Van Seventer EE, Fetter IJ, Nadres B, Eyler CE, Ryan DP, Weekes CD, Clark JW, Cusack JC, Goyal L, Zhu AX, Wo JY, Blaszkowsky LS, Allen J, Corcoran RB, Hong TS. Circulating Tumor DNA Predicts Pathologic and Clinical Outcomes Following Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation and Surgery for Patients With Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer. JCO Precis Oncol 2021. PubMed
  • Sell NM, Qwaider YZ, Goldstone RN, Cauley CE, Cusack JC, Ricciardi R, Bordeianou LG, Berger DL, Kunitake H. Ten-year survival after pathologic complete response in rectal adenocarcinoma. J Surg Oncol 2021; 123:293-298. PubMed
  • Qwaider YZ, Sell NM, Stafford CE, Kunitake H, Cusack JC, Ricciardi R, Bordeianou LG, Deshpande V, Goldstone RN, Cauley CE, Berger DL. Infiltrating Tumor Border Configuration is a Poor Prognostic Factor in Stage II and III Colon Adenocarcinoma. Ann Surg Oncol 2020. PubMed
  • Alty IG, Dee EC, Cusack JC, Blaszkowsky LS, Goldstone RN, Francone TD, Wo JY, Qadan M. Refusal of surgery for colon cancer: Sociodemographic disparities and survival implications among US patients with resectable disease. Am J Surg 2020. PubMed
  • Raldow AC, Chen AB, Russell M, Lee PP, Hong TS, Ryan DP, Cusack JC, Wo JY. Cost-effectiveness of Short-Course Radiation Therapy vs Long-Course Chemoradiation for Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer. JAMA Netw Open 2019; 2:e192249. PubMed
  • Yozu M, Johncilla ME, Srivastava A, Ryan DP, Cusack JC, Doyle L, Setia N, Yang M, Lauwers GY, Odze RD, Misdraji J. Histologic and Outcome Study Supports Reclassifying Appendiceal Goblet Cell Carcinoids as Goblet Cell Adenocarcinomas, and Grading and Staging Similarly to Colonic Adenocarcinomas. Am J Surg Pathol 2018. PubMed
  • Kishan AU, Voog JC, Wiseman J, Cook RR, Ancukiewicz M, Lee P, Ryan DP, Clark JW, Berger DL, Cusack JC, Wo JY, Hong TS. Standard Fractionation External Beam Radiotherapy With and Without Intraoperative Radiotherapy for Locally Recurrent Rectal Cancer: The Role of Local Therapy in Patients With a High Competing Risk of Death From Distant Disease. Br J Radiol 2017. PubMed
  • Chan CH, Liesenfeld LF, Ferreiro-Neira I, Cusack JC. Preclinical Evaluation of Cathepsin-Based Fluorescent Imaging System for Cytoreductive Surgery. Ann Surg Oncol 2016. PubMed
  • Ferreiro-Neira I, Torres N, Liesenfeld L, Chan CH, Penson T, Landesman Y, Senapedis W, Shacham S, Hong TS, Cusack JC. XPO1 inhibition enhances radiation response in preclinical models of rectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res 2015. PubMed
  • Hughes KS, Cusack JC. Genetics, Genomics, and Pharmacogenomics. Ann Surg Oncol 2015; 22:3414-7. PubMed
  • Erstad DJ, Tumusiime G, Cusack JC. Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer: Implications for the Clinical Surgeon. Ann Surg Oncol 2015; 22:3433-50. PubMed
  • Riesel JN, Mandigo M, Gillies R, Damuse R, Farmer PE, Cusack JC, Krakauer EL, Shulman LN. Surgical palliative care in resource-limited settings. Lancet 2015. PubMed
  • 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. PubMed
  • Chan CH, Cusack JC, Ryan DP. A critical look at local-regional management of peritoneal metastasis. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 2015; 29:153-8. PubMed
  • Cercek A, Cusack JC, Ryan DP. Treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis of colorectal origin. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book 2015; 35:e208-11. PubMed
  • Mirabeau-Beale K, Hong TS, Niemierko A, Ancukiewicz M, Blaszkowsky LS, Crowley EM, Cusack JC, Drapek LC, Kovalchuk N, Markowski M, Napolitano B, Nyamwanda J, Ryan DP, Wolfgang J, Kachnic LA, Wo JY. Clinical and treatment factors associated with vaginal stenosis after definitive chemoradiation for anal canal cancer. 2014. PubMed
  • Sahani DV, Bajwa MA, Andrabi Y, Bajpai S, Cusack JC. Current status of imaging and emerging techniques to evaluate liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma. Ann Surg 2014; 259:861-72. PubMed
  • Russo AL, Ryan DP, Borger DR, Wo JY, Szymonifka J, Liang WY, Kwak EL, Blaszkowsky LS, Clark JW, Allen JN, Zhu AX, Berger DL, Cusack JC, Mamon HJ, Haigis KM, Hong TS. Mutational and clinical predictors of pathologic complete response in the treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer. J Gastrointest Cancer 2014; 45:34-9. PubMed
  • Frederick DT, Salas Fragomeni RA, Schalck A, Ferreiro-Neira I, Hoff T, Cooper ZA, Haq R, Panka DJ, Kwong LN, Davies MA, Cusack JC, Flaherty KT, Fisher DE, Mier JW, Wargo JA, Sullivan RJ. Clinical profiling of BCL-2 family members in the setting of BRAF inhibition offers a rationale for targeting de novo resistance using BH3 mimetics. PLoS ONE 2014; 9:e101286. PubMed
  • Salas Fragomeni RA, Chung HW, Landesman Y, Senapedis W, Saint-Martin JR, Tsao H, Flaherty KT, Shacham S, Kauffman M, Cusack JC. CRM1 and BRAF inhibition synergize and induce tumor regression in BRAF-mutant melanoma. Mol Cancer Ther 2013. PubMed
  • 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 Oncol 2013; 20:1365-73. PubMed
  • Conrad C, Podolsky MJ, Cusack JC. Antiproteasomal agents in rectal cancer. 2011; 22:341-50. PubMed
  • Cusack JC, Clark JW, Curley SA, Sahani DV, Zukerberg LR. Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital: Case 3-2011: a 58-year-old woman with a mass in the liver. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:362-70. PubMed
  • Klos CL, Shellito PC, Rattner DW, Hodin RA, Cusack JC, Bordeianou L, Sylla P, Hong TS, Blaszkowsky L, Ryan DP, Lauwers GY, Chang Y, Berger DL. The effect of neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy on the prognostic value of lymph nodes after rectal cancer surgery. Am J Surg 2010; 200:440-5. PubMed
  • Sloss CM, Wang F, Palladino MA, Cusack JC. Activation of EGFR by proteasome inhibition requires HB-EGF in pancreatic cancer cells. Oncogene 2010; 29:3146-52. PubMed
  • Sloss CM,Wang F,Liu R,Xia L,Houston M,Ljungman D,Palladino MA,Cusack JC Jr. Proteasome inhibition activates epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and EGFR-independent mitogenic kinase signaling pathways in pancreatic cancer cells. Clin Cancer Res 2008; 14:5116-23. PubMed
  • Donahue J,Sahani D,Tso L,Cusack JC Jr. Extra-adrenal pheochromocytoma involving the organ of Zuckerkandl. Surgery 2008; 143:830-2. PubMed
  • Wang F, Sloss C, Zhang X, Lee SW, Cusack JC. Membrane-bound heparin-binding epidermal growth factor like growth factor regulates E-cadherin expression in pancreatic carcinoma cells. Cancer Res 2007; 67:8486-93. PubMed
  • Ryan DP, O'Neil BH, Supko JG, Rocha Lima CM, Dees EC, Appleman LJ, Clark J, Fidias P, Orlowski RZ, Kashala O, Eder JP, Cusack JC. A Phase I study of bortezomib plus irinotecan in patients with advanced solid tumors. Cancer 2006; 107:2688-97. PubMed
  • Ryan DP, Appleman LJ, Lynch T, Supko JG, Fidias P, Clark JW, Fishman M, Zhu AX, Enzinger PC, Kashala O, Cusack J, Eder JP. Phase I clinical trial of bortezomib in combination with gemcitabine in patients with advanced solid tumors. Cancer 2006; 107:2482-9. PubMed
  • Cusack JC, Liu R, Xia L, Chao TH, Pien C, Niu W, Palombella VJ, Neuteboom ST, Palladino MA. NPI-0052 enhances tumoricidal response to conventional cancer therapy in a colon cancer model. Clin Cancer Res 2006; 12:6758-64. PubMed
  • 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 .
  • Mitra D, Hong TS, Horick N, Rose B, Drapek LN, Blaszkowsky LS, Allen JN, Kwak EL, Murphy JE, Clark JW, Ryan DP, Cusack JC, Bordeianou LG, Berger DL, Wo JY. Long-term outcomes and toxicities of a large cohort of anal cancer patients treated with dose-painted IMRT per RTOG 0529. Adv Radiat Oncol ; 2:110-117. PubMed