Dr Samuel Kariuki
Director of the Centre for Microbiology Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute
Sam utilises molecular tools to investigate the field epidemiology of major enteric infections and antimicrobial resistance ecology and transmission in Kenya and the region. Infections of major public health importance here include invasive non-typhoidal salmonella disease, cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
Sam Kariuki is Director of the Centre for Microbiology Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and co-ordinator of the postgraduate Medical Microbiology Course hosted by the Institute in Nairobi.
Sam graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi in 1989 and then obtained a MSc in Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Nairobi in 1991. He obtained his PhD (Tropical Medicine) from the University of Liverpool in 1997.
As a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Wellcome Trust, Sam researched on the epidemiology and molecular characterisation of invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis (NTS), which is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. NTS is common in the region in HIV-positive adults and in children where the infection causes high morbidity and mortality. Utilising basic molecular tools, Sam hypothesised that person-to-person rather than zoonotic transmission was playing a significant role in the epidemiology of community-acquired NTS. Despite scepticism from some scientists this has proven to be correct, a conclusion reached through joint genome analysis linked to field epidemiology carried out with the Sanger Institute.
Sam also works in the area of improving food hygiene through surveillance of other enteric pathogens including cholera, dysentery, typhoid and E. coli contamination through the food chain, funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Because antibiotic resistance is a major problem in the region, Sam is also involved in routine surveillance and monitoring of resistance and chairs the national and regional working groups on antimicrobial resistance. He is now an internationally recognised authority in his field and mentors local African scientists through the postgraduate training courses hosted by KEMRI. Importantly, his laboratory is embedded in a government research institute and is largely independent of core Western funding. However, his laboratory is closely linked to the Wellcome Trust Clinical Unit in Kilifi headed by Kevin Marsh.