Sam Mbulaiteye is a Senior Investigator at the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Trained as a specialist in internal medicine at Makerere University, Uganda and as an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, U.K., Dr. Mbulaiteye’s research interest has been understanding the causes of Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and Burkitt Lymphoma (BL). KS and BL are important for Africa because of their relatively high incidence and strong association with infections, particularly viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and parasitic infections, notably Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria.
Dr. Mbulaiteye began his research career at the Uganda Cancer Institute in the 1990s investigating the link between HIV and cancer in children and adults, and he moved to the National Cancer Institute in 2000. His scientific contributions include presenting the first concrete evidence showing that the HIV incidence was declining in Uganda, the first report showing that Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the virus that causes KS, is associated with a small but statistically significant risk of transmission via blood transfusion in Africa. Dr. Mbulaiteye’s studies have also suggested that the risk of BL in Africa might be associated with Pf genetic diversity and that infection with malaria is both a risk and protective factor of BL in Africa. Dr. Mbulaiteye is the principal investigator of the EMBLEM Study, a case-control study being conducted at six sites in East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania) to investigate the association between Pf malaria, EBV genetic variants, and human genetic factors with BL. He is collaborating with the Foundation for Burkitt Lymphoma Research and the NCI Office of Cancer Genomics and others to sequence the BL tumor genome.