John Cunningham grew up in Sydney, and attended the University of NSW for eight years. He entered medicine, but also took on the conjoint degree of Bachelor of Science, with majors in Anatomy and Physiology. In 1991 he completed a thesis on the role of the sympathetic nervous system in Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (now known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS).After finishing his medical degrees, John worked as a resident medical officer at St George Hospital in southern Sydney before being called up to active duty with the Australian Army. From 1999, he served in East Timor, at the Sydney Olympic Games, in Bougainville and in the Solomon Islands.

Returning to civilian practice, John began his Orthopaedic training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2005, completing it in 2008. In 2009 he completed a 12 month spine surgery fellowship with both neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons at the internationally regarded Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Canada. The following year, he was granted the Rowan Nicks ANZ Fellowship and completed another spine surgery fellowship with award-winning surgeon Mr Peter Robertson, as well as a Masters of Clinical Epidemiology, which allows him to design and perform clinical studies. John was awarded Fellowship to the Australian Orthopaedic Association in 2011.

First published in 1993, John has maintained a steady pace of conducting and publishing research for more than two decades. He presents at Australian and international meetings, and his work has appeared in international journals, listed here.

John now lives in Melbourne and has been appointed a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) at Royal Melbourne Hospital. There he treats elective spine patients as well as traumatic spinal injuries and general orthopaedic trauma. He has private rooms in Richmond and the Melbourne CBD, and he operates at the Epworth Richmond and at Royal Melbourne Hospital.