Kemri acting chief Samuel Kariuki picked to head DNDi

Samuel Kariuki, the acting director general at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), has been picked to head the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative. PHOTO | NMG

Samuel Kariuki, the acting director general at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), has been picked to head the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit medical research organisation.

Prof Kariuki will be the new Eastern Africa director, to support the expansion of the organisation’s clinical research capacity and treatments.

He will succeed Dr Monique Wasunna, who steps down after 20 years of service.

Before taking up the role, he was Kemri’s director of research and development and director of the Kemri Centre for Microbiology Research.

The organisation has expressed optimism in his more than two decades of experience in medical research and development in fields, including antimicrobial resistance, foodborne infections, and neglected tropical diseases.

DNDi identifies and develops medicines for neglected people, including sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, river blindness, mycetoma, dengue, paediatric HIV, advanced HIV disease, cryptococcal meningitis, and hepatitis C.

“Our region has made great strides combating neglected diseases, demonstrating Africa’s capacity to find solutions to its problems. I look forward to continuing the legacy of researchers, health workers, and communities who have worked tirelessly with DNDi to develop new treatments for neglected diseases over the past 20 years,” Prof Kariuki said.

Dr Wasunna will now serve as a DNDi Africa ambassador.

Prof Kariuki holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Nairobi and a PhD in Tropical Medicine from the University of Liverpool, UK. 

He is also a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Faculty Member of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a visiting Professor of Tropical Microbiology at Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK, and a member of the American Society for Microbiology.

He has published over 180 papers in peer-reviewed journals and published chapters in four textbooks on clinical microbiology and infectious diseases.

In 2022, Prof Kariuki was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in recognition of his contribution to research in tropical medicine.   

“We warmly welcome Prof Samuel Kariuki to his new role and look forward to working closely with him," said Dr Luis Pizarro, executive director of DNDi.

“With his vast experience and strong leadership skills, I have no doubt that he will strengthen the collaboration between DNDi and the public and private sectors in eastern Africa and that together we will co-create sustainable solutions to help neglected patients in the region.” 

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