Reward Being Offered for Missing CDC Epidemiologist

Alicia Ault

February 27, 2018

UPDATED February 28, 2018 // Concern is growing about the disappearance of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) epidemic intelligence officer who has gone missing. He was last heard from on February 12, when he called in sick.

The parents of Timothy Jerrell Cunningham, ScD, a team lead with the CDC's Division of Population Health, drove to Atlanta when he was not returning calls or texts. At his residence, they reportedly found his car keys, his wallet and phone, and his unattended dog.

Timothy Jerrell Cunningham. Atlanta Police Department

The Cunninghams reported their 35-year-old son missing on February 14, and the City of Atlanta Police Department issued a missing persons alert on its Facebook page on February 17.

CNN has reported speculation that his disappearance is related to being passed over for a promotion, but police can't confirm that theory at this point.

Friends have set up a fundraising site to help raise money for a reward, noting on the page that "Tim is a very loving, brilliant, and responsible young man. Therefore, his sudden disappearance is highly irregular and very much out of character for him."

At press time, the site had raised $22,000.

The Aware Foundation,  a nonprofit organization dedicated to missing and murdered individuals, posted a missing persons flyer about Cunningham on its Facebook page indicating that his family thought he might be wearing his public health service uniform.

Kathy Harben, a spokeswoman for the CDC, told Medscape Medical News that "Dr Cunningham's colleagues and friends at CDC hope that he is safe. We want him to return to his loved ones and his work — doing what he does best as a CDC disease detective — protecting people's health."

Cunningham trained with the CDC as an epidemic intelligence service officer. At the agency, he has focused on understanding health differences related to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and geography, according to his CDC bio page. Cunningham has been deployed for many public health emergencies, including Superstorm Sandy and Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks.

He is a member of the American Public Health Association and the American College of Epidemiology and received his MS and ScD from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cunningham received his bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, according to his father, Terrell Cunningham, who was quoted in various news reports.

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