CDC says missing researcher had been promoted, despite earlier reports

Cunningham hasn't been seen or heard from since Monday.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who has now been missing for a month had recently gotten a promotion, the agency said Monday.

The CDC said initial reports that Timothy Cunningham had been passed over for a promotion shortly before his disappearance were incorrect. In a Feb. 27 press conference, Atlanta police said Cunningham was upset he hadn’t gotten a promotion he wanted.

Cunningham, a Morehouse College and Harvard University graduate, was an epidemiologist, working for the chronic disease department of the CDC.


The 35-year-old was last seen Feb. 12 when he left the CDC and told colleagues he was ill. Atlanta police have said there were no signs of foul play at his home, and the investigation continues.

In July, Cunningham received an early promotion to commander, the CDC said.

“If Tim reads this message, we hope you come home soon,” the CDC said in an emailed statement. “If anyone reading this has information about the whereabouts of Commander Cunningham, please come forward.”

Sgt. John Chafee with the Atlanta Police Department responded to the CDC’s statement by saying, “We stand behind every statement the Atlanta Police Department made about Dr. Cunningham’s employment, as our information came directly from the CDC. Any further questions about Dr. Cunningham’s employment, or this statement issued by the CDC today, would need to be answered by the CDC.”

Cunningham's family has partnered with Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta to offer a $15,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and indictment in this case. Information can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or online at