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James A. DeCaprio, MD

Medical Oncology

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  • Physician
  • Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Clinical Interests

  • Viral oncology

Contact Information

  • Appointments617-632-6140
  • Office Phone Number617-632-3825
  • Fax617-582-8601


Dr. DeCaprio received his MD in 1984 from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, and his medical oncology fellowship at DFCI. In 1992, he joined the faculty of DFCI, where his laboratory has focused on mechanisms of cellular transformation and oncogenesis.


  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Medical Oncology


  • University of Chicago, Internal Medicine

Medical School:

  • University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Recent Awards:

  • American Society for Clinical Investigation 1997
  • Scholar, Leukemia Society of America 1997
  • Stohlman Scholar, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 2002
  • Biological and Biochemical Sciences HMS Award in Teaching 2000
  • Association of American Physicians 2004
  • Harvard University GSAS Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award 2004


Mechanisms of Cellular Transformation and Oncogenesis

Viral oncology

Our laboratory examines how viruses can cause human cancer. In particular, we study the family of small DNA tumor viruses that include human papilloma virus (HPV) and polyomavirus. HPV can cause cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancer. The Merkel cell polyomavirus can cause Merkel cell carcinoma, a highly lethal form of skin cancer.  Our laboratory studies how these viruses infect normal human cells and the consequences of the subsequent interactions between the viral oncogenes and the cellular DNA, genes and proteins.

Cell Cycle

One hallmark of cancer is rapid and uncontrolled proliferation. A cancer cell retains the ability to replicate its DNA and undergo cell division similar to a normal cell. However, a cancer cell has lost important checkpoints that regulate entry into the cell cycle, resulting in continuous and inappropriate cell proliferation. Our laboratory has focused on transcription factors that regulate entry into and progression through the cell cycle. In addition, we study how a cell and a tumor can stop proliferating by exiting the cell cycle and entering into a state of cellular quiescence or senescence and tumor dormancy.


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Avenue
Mayer 440
Boston, MA 02215
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