M. Kariuki Njenga
Dr. Kariuki Njenga is Professor at the Washington State University Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and the Country Director of the WSU Global Health Program - Kenya. He holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science degrees from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a PhD from the Pennsylvania State University, US. Dr. Njenga obtained 5 years of post-doctoral training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, US. His research training is in virology and immunology but he has gained extensive experience in conducting basic and field studies in infectious diseases over the past 16 years, resulting in publication of more than 170 peer-reviewed papers on the subject. Between 2004-2011 (8 years), Dr. Njenga served as Laboratory Director of the CDC in Kenya, first to establish and equip the laboratories and later to lead diagnostic testing for outbreaks in the horn of Africa and East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda) for disease such as Rift Valley fever, Avian influenza, Hepatitis E, Leptospirosis, and anthrax. At CDC, Dr Njenga also worked with CDC epidemiologists to establish a human population-based syndromic surveillance for acute febrile illness, jaundice, respiratory illness and diarrheal in among urban and rural populations.
Between 2011 and 2014, Dr. Njenga served as head of the One Health Program at CDC-Kenya and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), focusing on establishing a multisectoral OH approach (setting up policies, institutions, and research) that enhanced Kenya’s efforts in preventing and controlling zoonotic diseases. For One Health research, he focused on conducting systematic burden of disease studies on priority episodic and endemic zoonotic diseases in the East Africa region, and studies at the animal-human-environment interface in order to elucidate the mechanisms of animal-to-human transmission. In addition, he was instrumental in developing a linked human-animal population based syndromic surveillance platform that investigated the nutritional, economic, and zoonotic interactions between rural sub-Saharan people and their livestock.
My desire to become a microbiologist and research scientist became obvious in my 2nd year of Veterinary School, and since then I have stayed the course. The pursuit of this path was inspired by two things; my early knowledge of the simplicity of a virus life cycle and its ability to harness the replication cycle of eukaryotic cells to propagate itself and cause disease, and a desire to do research, publish, and be cited by others. Apart from research, I love playing golf and lawn tennis, and traveling.
Education and Training
- 1980-1985. Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVM), University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
- 1986-1989. Master of Science, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
- 1990-1994. Doctor of Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, US
- 1994-1999. Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota, US
- Scholar calls for harmonized response to emerging diseases in Africa
- Faculty member elected to National Academy of Medicine
- WSU rabies vaccination teams make profound impact
- Cancer, climate change, re-emerging diseases to dominate research this year
- Tough questions for Kenya as Covid-19 spreads
- WSU launches new Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases in Nairobi, Kenya
- NIAID Establishes Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases
- New WSU research center in Kenya will provide diagnostic testing, vaccines
- NIAID awards $17 million to establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases
- The NIH Launches a Global Hunt for Animal-to-Human Diseases
- Nderitu L, Lee JS, Omolo J, Omulo S, O'Guinn ML, Hightower A, Mosha F, Mohamed M, Munyua P, Nganga Z, Hiett K, Seal B, Feikin DR, Breiman RF, Njenga MK. (2011) Sequential Rift Valley fever outbreaks in eastern Africa caused by multiple lineages of the virus. J Infect Dis. 203(5):655-65. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiq004. PMID: 21282193 PMCID: PMC3071275
- Munyua PM, Murithi RM, Ithondeka P, Hightower A, Thumbi SM, Anyangu SA, Kiplimo J, Bett B, Vrieling A, Breiman RF, Njenga MK. (2016) Predictive Factors and Risk Mapping for Rift Valley Fever Epidemics in Kenya. PLoS One. 11(1):e0144570. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144570. PMID: 26808021 PMCID: PMC4726791
- Luce-Fedrow A, Maina AN, Otiang E, Ade F, Omulo S, Ogola E, Ochieng L, Njenga MK, Richards AL. (2015) Isolation of Candidatus Rickettsia asemboensis from Ctenocephalides Fleas. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. PMID: 25897814
- Richards AL, Jiang J, Omulo S, Dare R, Abdirahman K, Ali A, Sharif SK, Feikin DR, Breiman RF, Njenga MK. (2010) Human Infection with Rickettsia felis, Kenya. Emerg Infect Dis. PMID: 20587178 PMCID: PMC3321909
- Njenga MK, Paweska J, Wanjala R, Rao CY, Weiner M, Omballa V, Luman ET, Mutonga D, Sharif S, Panning M, Drosten C, Feikin DR, Breiman RF. (2009) Using a field quantitative real-time PCR test to rapidly identify highly viremic rift valley fever cases. J Clin Microbiol. 47(4):1166-71. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01905-08. PMID: 19171680 PMCID: PMC2668310