• Medical School: Duke University
  • Residency:  Medical College of Virginia
  • Fellowship:  Duke University

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Infectious Disease

Research Interests

Dr. Cunnion's principle research interest is the pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus infections and the host response against S. aureus infections. Specifically I am interested in the opsonization and phagocytosis of S. aureus. This work has focused on the characterization of opsonic complement fragment deposition on S. aureus and determining the effects of capsule and phase of growth. The binding and degradation of specific opsonic proteins on the S. aureus surface are tested for influence on neutrophil phagocytosis efficiency. These relationships are also investigated in murine models of S. aureus bacteremia.

Honors and Awards

Eastern Virginia Medical School Faculty Senate – Pediatric resentative  - 2006

Pediatric Scientist Development Program Symposium – Presenter - 1999

Duke Pediatric Fellow Research Symposium - Presenter and Award Recipient - 1999

American Academy of Pediatrics Residency Program Delegate, MCV - 1995 - 1996

Frontiers in Science/AMSPDC Residency Program Delegate - 1995

Cum laude, Dartmouth College - 1989

Charles A. Collis Scholarship for Academic Achievement, Dartmouth College - 1986 - 1999


Dr. Cunnion served as PI on 4 grant awards and Co-investigator on an NIH grant.

  • Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08) – NIAID - PI,   2002 – 2007
    “Complement and the clearance of Staphylococcus aureus”
  • Cy pres award – U.S. District Court (Eastern District of Virginia) - PI, 2006 – 2008
    “Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in children”
  • CHKD Research Endowment - PI, 2006 – 2008
    “Complement factor I-binding characteristics of community-associated MRSA isolates from children”
  • Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trial Group – NIH, Co-investigator, 2000 - 2007
  • Pediatric Scientist Development Program Fellow - PI, 1997 – 1999
  • “Mechanistic study of cowpox virus TNF-receptor homolog CrmD”

Selected Publications

Cunnion KM, Hair PS, Buescher ES. Clinical isolates of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bind complement regulatory protein factor I. In review.

Cunnion KM, Hair PS, Beuscher ES.  Serum complement factor I decreases Staphylococcus aureus phagocytosis.  The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine.  146(5):279-286, 2005 Nov.

Cunnion KM, Hair PS, Beuscher ES.  Cleavage of complement C3b to iC3b on the surface of Staphylococcus aureus is mediated by serum complement factor I.  Infection and Immunity. 72(5):2858-2863, 2004 May.

Cunnion KM, Benjamin DK, Hester CG, Frank MM. The role of complement receptor 1/2 (CD35/CD21), C3, C4 and C5 in murine survival of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine. 143(6):358-365, 2004 June.

Cunnion KM, Frank MM.  Complement activation influences Staphylococcus aureus adherence to endothelial cells. Infection and Immunity. 71(3):1321-1327, 2003 Mar.

Cunnion KM, Zhang H-M, Frank MM.  Availability of complement bound to Staphylococcus aureus to interact with membrane complement receptors influences efficiency of phagocytosis. Infection and Immunity. 71(2):656-662, 2003 Feb.

Cunnion KM, Lee JC, Frank MM.  Capsule production and growth phase influence binding of complement to Staphylococcus aureus. Infection and Immunity. 69(11): 6796-6803, 2001 Nov.

Cunnion KM. Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptors Encoded by Poxviruses. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism. 67:278-282, 1999 Oct.  

Cunnion KM. Weber DJ. Broadhead WE. Hanson LC. Pieper CF. Rutala WA. Risk factors for nosocomial pneumonia: comparing adult critical-care populations. American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine. 153(1):158-62, 1996 Jan.

Cunnion KM. Pneumatosis intestinalis in pediatric acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 17(4):355-6, 1998 Apr.

Cunnion KM. Dolan MA. Sonnino RE. Case records of the Medical College of Virginia: a 10-year-old girl presenting with an acute onset of abdominal pain. Pediatric Emergency Care. 12(1):52-5, 1996 Feb.

Book Chapters

Cunnion KM, Alexander K. "Central Nervous System Infections." In Pediatric Infectious Diseases (Mandell GL, Wilfert CM, Eds.). Churchill Livingstone; Philadelphia: Current Medicine, c1999.

Cunnion KM, Wagner E, Frank MM. "Complement and Kinins." In Medical Immunology (Stites DP, Terr AI, Parslow TG, Eds.)



Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Eastern Virginia Medical School

Division of Infectious Diseases
Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters
601 Children's Lane
Norfolk, VA 23507
Phone: (757) 668 - 7238

Division Director
Pediatric Basic Science Unit

E.V. Williams Hall
855 W. Brambleton Ave
Norfolk, VA 23510
Phone: (757) 668-6420