Dr Kariuki Njenga is Professor at Washington State University (WSU) and the Country Director of the WSU-Global Health Program in Kenya. Currently, he is the PI of two US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded grants; the first on preventing zoonotic disease outbreaks ($3,750,00 over 5 years, 2015-2020); and the second on conducting communicable disease research in the Kenya ($18,000,000 over 5 years, 2016-2021). 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, USA.
Dr Njenga obtained 5 years of post-doctoral training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. His background 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 150 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 then to provide diagnostic testing for outbreaks in the horn of Africa and East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda) such as Rift Valley fever and other viral hemorrhagic fevers, Avian influenza, Hepatitis E, Leptospirosis, and anthrax. At CDC, Dr Njenga also worked with CDC epidemiologists to establish a human population-based syndromic surveillance (PBSS) 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 (OH) 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 OH 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. Over his research career, Dr Njenga has managed over US$ 80 million in research funds from CDC, NIH, USDA, United States’ Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and United States’ Biosecurity Engagement Program at the Department of State.