About Us

Adult Cardiac Surgery

General Thoracic Surgery

Pediatric Heart Surgery



James M. Isbell, M.D., MSCI

James M. Isbell, M.D., MSCI

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor of Surgery

Director, Adult Extracorporeal Life Support

Co-Director, Thoracic & Cardiovascular Critical Care



  • University of Virginia Health System
  • Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

Educational Background

  • University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX (Medical School, 2003)
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN (Internship)
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN (General Surgery Residency)
  • University of Virginia Health System (Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship)
  • University of Virginia Health System (Surgical Critical Care Fellowship)


James M. Isbell, MD, MSCI is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.  Board certified in general and thoracic surgery, Dr. Isbell specializes in the surgical management of benign and malignant diseases of the chest including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, malignant mesothelioma, mediastinal and chest wall tumors, hiatal hernias, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), achalasia and hyperhydrosis.  Dr. Isbell has expertise in minimally invasive surgery for lung and esophageal cancer as well as for benign esophageal disease.  In addition to playing an active role in the University of Virginia’s Lung Transplant Program, Dr. Isbell serves as Surgical Director of the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and Director of the Adult Extracorporeal Life Support Program.


Dr. Isbell received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, graduating first in his class.  He received many awards and honors including the Ho Din Award, the highest honor granted a graduating medical student; the Hudson-Penn Award for Excellence in Surgery; election as President of Southwestern’s chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and selection by his medical school classmates as the person they would most like to be their doctor.  He completed his internship and residency in general surgery at Vanderbilt University, where he served as Administrative Chief Resident.  During his surgery residency, he also received a Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (M.S.C.I.) from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.  Dr. Isbell completed further fellowships in Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at the University of Virginia, where he was successfully recruited to join the faculty.


Dr. Isbell is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American Medical Association.


Dr. Isbell is widely published in professional journals and textbooks related to his research and specialty interests in thoracic surgery.  His research interests include lung and esophageal cancer, cardiothoracic critical care and extracorporeal life support.


For leisure, Dr. Isbell enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 daughters.  His recreational pursuits include hiking, camping and fly fishing.


Personal tools