James Rocco, MD, PhD

James Rocco


College of Medicine



Academic Title


Research Program

Translational Therapeutics

James Rocco, MD, PhD, is a member of the Translational Therapeutics Program at the OSUCCC – James, where his research focuses on head and neck cancer, particularly on the origins of intra-tumor heterogeneity, the development of biomarkers that could guide decisions about therapy, and mechanisms of resistance to therapy.

He is also actively involved in clinical trials at the OSUCCC – James and helps direct nationwide efforts through his service on the NRG Oncology and ECOG-ACRIN head and neck committees, and as the co-chair of the NCI Head and Neck Task Force on Metastatic and Recurrent Disease.

He has been a pioneer in recognizing the clinical significance of intra-tumor heterogeneity, the genetic differences among cancer cells within a tumor. His group’s work on head and neck cancer was the first to show in a large, multi-institutional study that high intra-tumor heterogeneity is associated with shorter overall survival in any type of cancer. His laboratory is exploring the origins of intra-tumor heterogeneity during tumor development, novel biomarkers for head and neck cancer, molecular mechanisms that these biomarkers represent and how these biomarkers might inform decisions about therapy.

Dr. Rocco has co-authored many articles in well-known publications, including Cancer Cell, Cell, PLoS Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, Genome Research and Cancer.


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