Thoracic surgical oncologist James Isbell

James M. Isbell, MD, MSCI

Thoracic Surgical Oncologist & Intensivist

Clinical Expertise

Lung and Esophageal Cancer; Minimally Invasive Surgery, Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS); Thymic Tumors; Chest Wall Tumors; Pulmonary Metastases; Mesothelioma; Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

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Accepted Insurance Providers

Dr. Isbell accepts the following list of insurance providers. Select your insurance provider to see more details.

Contact and Location

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Find a Convenient Location

Memorial Sloan Kettering has locations throughout New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester. These locations offers many services, including screening, chemotherapy, and medical testing.

About Me


MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School


General Surgery - Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Thoracic Surgery - University of Virginia Health System


Surgical Critical Care - University of Virginia Health System

Board Certifications

General Surgery; Thoracic Surgery; Surgical Critical Care

I am a board-certified thoracic surgical oncologist with expertise in minimally invasive techniques including video-assisted thoracic surgery and robotic-assisted techniques. My goal is to help my patients return to normal activities as quickly as possible.

I see approximately 400 people with cancers of the chest cavity each year. Fortunately, we have multiple treatment options to choose from. But deciding which of these options is best can be intimidating to some of my patients and their families. Several of my closest family members have been diagnosed with cancer, so I can relate. I strive to provide patients and families with all the information they need to have a full understanding of treatment options available to them. At the same time, I work with my colleagues in the Thoracic Oncology Service to develop a treatment plan that is in line with my patients’ wishes.

In addition to my clinical work, my research interests are centered on two areas: comparative effectiveness and health outcomes research, and clinical trials and innovative technology development related to surgical thoracic oncology. From a health outcomes research standpoint, I am investigating how variability in care of people with lung cancer across the United States may contribute to the difference in outcomes observed. From a clinical trials and technology perspective, I am interested in developing methods to detect lung cancer at earlier stages to improve long-term survival.


Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering work as teams, with specialists from all different areas. This allows us to consider all your needs together, and to give you the best possible care.

Clinical Trials

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Find a Clinical Trial for You

Memorial Sloan Kettering's doctors and scientists are constantly developing new treatments for cancer. MSK is typically running hundreds of clinical trials at a given time.

You may be able to participate in a clinical trial even if you are new to MSK. Search our online directory to find trial information and see more about who can participate.

Research and Publications

Isbell JM, Deppen S., Putnam J.B. Jr., Nesbitt J.C., Lambright E.S., Dawes A., MassionP.P., Speroff T., Jones D.R., and Grogan E.L. Existing general population models inaccurately predict lung cancer risk in patients referred for surgical evaluation. Annals of Thoracic Surgery 91:227-33, 2011.

Isbell JM and Jones DR. Parenchymal-sparing lung resections: technique of sleeve resections. Operative Techniques in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery: A Comparative Atlas. 2011; 16:215-25.

Taylor MD, Lapar DJ, Davis JP, Isbell JM, Kozower BD, Lau CL, Jones DR. Induction chemoradiotherapy and surgery for esophageal cancer: survival benefit with downstaging. Annals of Thoracic Surgery 96: 225-230, 2013.

Walters DM, Vaughn NH, Isbell JM, Jeffus SK, Atkins KA, Sauer BG, Jones DR. Leiomyoma presenting as a massive calcified circumferential esophageal mass. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2013; 96:1851-4.

Taylor MD, Lapar DJ, Isbell JM, Kozower BD, Lau CL, Jones DR. Marginal pulmonary function should not preclude lobectomy in selected patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2014; 147:738-44.

Hu Y, McMurry TL, Wells KM, Isbell JM, Stukenborg GJ, Kozower BD. Postoperative mortality is an inadequate quality indicator for lung cancer resection. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2014; 97:973-9.

Hu Y, McMurry TL, Isbell JM, Stukenborg GJ, Kozower BD. Readmission after lung cancer resection is associated with a 6-fold increase in 90-day postoperative mortality. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2014; 148:2261-7.

Walters DM, McMurry TL, Isbell JM, Stukenborg GJ, Kozower BD. Understanding mortality as a quality indicator after esophagectomy. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2014; 2:506-512.

Kiankhooy A, Taylor MD, LaPar DJ, Isbell JM, Lau CL, Kozower BD, Jones DR. Predictors of early recurrence for node-negative T1 and T2 non-small cell lung cancer. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2014; 4:1175-83.

Publications on PubMed

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Isbell’s journal articles. Pubmed is an online index of research papers and other articles from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.