Faculty Profile

Sam Kariuki

Sam Kariuki

Professor, Tropical Microbiology and Dircetor, Research & Development, KEMRI

Phone: 254722232467



Sam Kariuki is Chief Research Scientist and Director, Research and Development at KEMRI in Nairobi. He is also a Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute International Fellow and a visiting Professor of Tropical Microbiology, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK. He is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. Research interests are in the epidemiology and molecular characterisation of enteric bacterial pathogens and antimicrobial resistance, including for invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis (NTS) and typhoid fever, Shigellaspp, Vibrio choleraeand Escherichia coli. He has authored/co-authored over 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals and 3 text books on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Food Safety.Our data has contributed extensively to policy change in treatment and management of foodborne infections locally and in the understanding of zoonotic bacterial infections and AMR in general. Some of the outputs include seminal papers and reviews published by the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization website on Food Safety along the meat value chains in Kenya (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/agns/news_events/AMR_in_Kenya.pdf). As a national coordinator for the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP) I was principal author of Situation Analysis: Antibiotic Use and Resistance in Kenya, under the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP) in Kenya. I am also a member of the Ministry of Health National Antimicrobial Stewardship Advisory Committee (NASAC) providing policy direction for AMR and AMU surveillance in interministerial One-Health National Team. As a member of the World Health Organization Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, I provide guidance on AMR surveilance for the region. Recently, I was lead consultant for updating the Situation Analysis in Kenya and a Committee member developing the National Action Plan on AMR, published in May, 2017.

Personal Statement:

I have worked at Kenya Medical Research Institute for 24 years, currently as Deputy Director in charge of overall coordination of research regulation and knowledge management to ensure achievement of KEMRI’s strategic objectives. Over the last 18 years I have researched and published on the epidemiology and molecular characterization of key foodborne enteric pathogens including Typhoid and other Salmonella infections, E. coli, Shigella, Vibrio cholerae and Campylobacter spp that are endemic in Kenya and the region. One of my main research outputs emanating from a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship (2002-2006) was the proof of a hypothesis that non-typhoidal salmonella (notably Salmonella serovar Typhimurium) invasive bloodstream infections in children less than 5 years of age and resulting in extremely high mortality rates in Kenya and the region were transmitted human –to-human contrary to the commonly described zoonotic transmission routes (Kariuki et al. J Med Microbiol. 2006; 55(Pt 5):585-91). In the last 5 years full genome sequencing has now confirmed that S. Typhimurium sequence type 313 is a uniquely African virulent clone that is very similar in genome variation and evolution to S. Typhi (Kingsley et al., Genome Res. 2009. 19: 2279-87; Okoro et al., Nat Genet. 2012; 44(11):1215-21). In addition we have researched extensively on the local epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in these and other enteric pathogens especially as they relate to the human-animal interface. As a result of these seminal scientific research findings I was awarded the prestigious Pfizer Prize for African Scientist of the Year Award, 2012, on 31st October, 2012 by Royal Society, United Kingdom.

Education &Training:

  • Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi, 1985-1989
  • Master of Science (Pharmacology & Toxicology), University of Nairobi, 1990-1991
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Tropical Medicine), University of Liverpool, UK, 1994-1997
  1. 2002-2012: Honorary Lecturer, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Liverpool.
  2. 2005-present: Faculty Member, Aga Khan University Postgraduate School, Kenya.
  3. 2006-2016: Lecturer and Unit Head Microbiology postgraduate course: ITROMID KMERI-JKUAT collaboration
Microbiology, Antimicrobial Resistance Epidemiology and Genomics, Infectious disease pathogen genomics 
132 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and 3 chapters in textbooks of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Select Publications
  • Kariuki S, Mbae C, Onsare R, Kavai SM, Wairimu C, Ngetich R, Ali M, Clemens J, Dougan G. (2019) Multidrug-resistant Nontyphoidal Salmonella Hotspots as Targets for Vaccine Use in Management of Infections in Endemic Settings. Clin Infect Dis ;68(Supplement_1):S10-S15. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy898. PMID: 30767004 PMCID: PMC6376148
  • Kariuki S, Gordon MA, Feasey N, Parry CM (2015) Antimicrobial resistance and management of invasive Salmonella disease. Vaccine ;33 Suppl 3:C21-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.03.102. Epub 2015 Apr 23. PMID: 25912288 PMCID: PMC4469558
  • Kariuki S, Dougan G. (2014) Antibacterial resistance in sub-Saharan Africa: an underestimated emergency. Ann N Y Acad Sci ;1323:43-55. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12380. Epub 2014 Mar 14. PMID: 24628272 PMCID: PMC4159419
  • Kiiru J, Mutreja A, Mohamed AA, Kimani RW, Mwituria J, Sanaya RO, Muyodi J, Revathi G, Parkhill J, Thomson N, Dougan G, Kariuki S. (2013) A study on the geophylogeny of clinical and environmental Vibrio cholerae in Kenya. PLoS One ;8(9):e74829. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074829. eCollection 2013. PMID: 24066154 PMCID: PMC3774669
  • Kariuki S, Revathi G, Kariuki N, Kiiru J, Mwituria J, Muyodi J, Githinji JW, Kagendo D, Munyalo A, Hart CA. (2006) Invasive multidrug-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella infections in Africa: zoonotic or anthroponotic transmission? J Med Microbiol ;55(Pt 5):585-91. PMID: 16585646 PMCID:
  1. November, 2018: Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences
  2. Jan 2015-Present: Member of the Ministry of Health National Antimicrobial Stewardship Advisory Committee
  3. Jan 2015-Present, Member, Scientific Advisory Process for Optimal Research on Typhoid disease burden (SAPORT) in Africa and Asia, funded by BMGF.
  4. October, 2014-Present: Member of Scientific Advisory Board, The Biologicals and Vaccines (BIOVAC) Institute of Southern Africa, Cape Town. 
  5. May, 2014-Present:Member,Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences Programme Steering Group.
  6. June, 2014-2015: Executive Editor – Africa and the Middle East, Journal of Medical Microbiology Case Reports Editorial Board for this journal 
  7. December, 2013: Award Winner, Batian Merit Award for Best Scientist at KEMRI for 2013.
  8. July, 2013-June 2016: Visiting Professor, Tropical Microbiology, Oxford University, UK.
  9.  October, 2012: Pfizer Prize for African Scientist of the Year Award, 2012, by Royal Society.July 2011-Present: International Fellow, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, United Kingdom
  10. 10.June 2009-2015: Ambassador, American Society for Microbiology, East African Region
  11. 11.May 2009-Present: Member of the World Health Organization Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance