J. Joshua Smith, MD, PhD

Surgical Oncologist

Conditions Treated

J. Joshua Smith, MD, PhD
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About Me

I am an assistant attending surgeon on the Colorectal Surgery Service with special training in surgical oncology who treats people with colon cancer and rectal cancer. I also conduct research on the genetic basis of these diseases. I received my MD degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and my PhD degree in cell and developmental biology from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where I also completed my residency. I joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2013 as a fellow in complex surgical oncology, with an emphasis in colorectal cancer. I also served as the Chief Administrative Fellow for the Department of Surgery from 2014 to 2015. During my fellowship, I was active with members of the Colorectal Disease Management Team (DMT) in improving our understanding of rectal cancer patients undergoing nonoperative management after clinical complete response to neoadjuvant treatment.

While my clinical focus is on the treatment of colorectal cancer patients, the majority of my time is spent pursuing basic and translational research in the laboratory of hematologic oncologist Charles Sawyers.

Through my research efforts, I pursue targeted treatments for patients with colon and rectal cancer who are refractory to standard treatment regimens. I investigate the basic mechanisms and predictive markers in colorectal cancer patients, particularly focusing on my study of Smad4 loss to identify subsets of patients at risk of recurrence.

My clinical mentor, chief of service, and partner is Julio Garcia-Aguilar. Dr. Garcia-Aguilar is a national and international leader in surgical oncology, colorectal surgery, and cutting-edge rectal cancer clinical trials. He leads an RO1-funded trial, Organ Preservation in Rectal Adenocarcinoma (OPRA), in which I have been heavily involved over the past two years. My involvement in this trial will continue as a co-investigator, delving into the molecular mechanisms of poor response to standard neoadjuvant chemoradiation in locally advanced rectal cancer. In addition, we have proposed a novel method of assessing response, which we will examine in a prospecitive manner to allow a more precise and individualized approach to the management of the rectal cancer patient.

  • Clinical Expertise: Colon cancer; rectal cancer; minimally invasive surgical approaches (laparoscopic and robot-assisted); preservation of bowel, bladder and sexual function in rectal cancer patients and treatment of colorectal liver metastases in concert with our Hepatopancreatobiliary Service
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, University of Texas Medical School at Houston
  • Residencies: General Surgery - Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Fellowships: Complex Surgical Oncology - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Board Certifications: American Board of Surgery

My Research

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See J. Joshua Smith’s laboratory
research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

See My Colleagues


Visit PubMed for a full listing of J. Joshua Smith’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

As home to one of the world’s top cancer research centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering is typically involved in more than 900 clinical trials at a given time. Currently, clinical trials focused on the conditions I treat are enrolling new patients. If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, click to learn about the trial’s purpose, eligibility criteria, and how to get more information.

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Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicare and New York State Medicaid also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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