Samuel Kariuki - Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute International Fellow

Sam Kariuki is a Chief Research Scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi and a Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute International Fellow.

Sam Kariuki. Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute International Fellow.

Sam Kariuki. Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute International Fellow. [Genome Research Limited]

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The Global Health Initiative's International Fellowships enable two leading researchers in developing countries to use the Institute's resources to investigate the genomic basis of global health issues and build research capacity. By fostering partnerships and sharing our genomic facilities and techniques with researchers in the developing world, we are able to combine unique disease insights and expertise that come only from working and living in regions where the disease burden is at its highest with our genomic expertise and techniques to tackle major medical problems.

Sam has worked with the Institute's Pathogen Genetics team for several years investigating invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis (NTS) and was appointed as an International Fellow in 2011. In this role, Sam will spend 10-12 weeks at the Institute each year to combine his experience with our genomic research expertise and sequencing facilities to carry out detailed sequencing of the pathogens of major medical importance in East Africa. By strengthening and broadening his relationships at the Institute and making his sequencing data widely available, Sam will be able to build capacity for his local region and support pathogen researchers across Africa. He will also share his experiences and insight by devoting a proportion of his time teaching at Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and workshops. Together, we will be better able to explore how pathogens interact with their hosts and how infections might be prevented and controlled through the development of novel vaccine targets.

"Our International Fellows provide us with invaluable knowledge and insight about global health research issues that come only from working and living in the developing world"

Since obtaining his PhD from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Liverpool in 1997, Sam has been researching the epidemiology and molecular characterisation of bacterial pathogens. Invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis (NTS) is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and is most commonly observed in HIV-positive adults and in children, where the infection causes high rates of morbidity and mortality. Sam has made outstanding contributions to the study of NTS over the years and is now an internationally recognised authority in his field, as well as a great mentor for local African scientists.

Sam's laboratory is closely linked to the Wellcome Trust Clinical Unit in Kilifi headed by Kevin Marsh, but largely independent of core Western funding due to its position embedded in a Kenyan government research institute. As a result, in comparison with many laboratories in developed countries, it is not well resourced.

International Fellow Sam Kariuki's Laboratory, Kenya.

International Fellow Sam Kariuki's Laboratory, Kenya. [Genome Research Limited]

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However, Sam's in-depth understanding of the landscape of African science and the challenges associated with surviving as a scientist in these demanding conditions, allows him to study regional problems by integrating effectively with local communities and to work effectively within the confines of limited resource availability. Despite scepticism from Western scientists, he has utilised molecular tools to correctly hypothesise that person-to-person transmission, rather than zoonotic, plays a significant role in the epidemiology of community-acquired NTS.

To date, Sam has co-authored over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is regularly invited to present papers at international workshops and has edited books on the importance of antibiotic resistance in developing countries and epidemiology of NTS in Africa. Sam serves in an advisory capacity to the Alliance for Prudent use of Antibiotics (APUA) and chairs the local chapter in Kenya, as well as providing advice to major international workshops on topics such as antibiotic resistance surveillance. He was a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) task force on vaccine development for typhoid fever in developing countries who recommend the introduction of existing vaccines in typhoid-endemic areas and is currently part of task force funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation developing typhoid diagnostics.

International Fellow Sam Kariuki's Laboratory, Kenya.

International Fellow Sam Kariuki's Laboratory, Kenya. [Genome Research Limited]

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Sam is also working closely with the WHO and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on surveillance studies of anti-microbial resistance as part of a food safety project analysing the meat value chain in Kenya and the surrounding region. This work is supported by the WHO Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance (WHO-AGISAR), for which Sam has served on the committee in an advisory capacity since 2008.

For more information on how the Wellcome Trust is supporting research and research capacity strengthening in low- and middle-income countries and what grants are available please see http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/Funding/International/Global-health-research/index.htm.

Related links:

* quick link - http://q.sanger.ac.uk/lbc3s90m