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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Sam Mbulaiteye, MBChB, M.Phil., M.Med.

Senior Investigator

Information for Journalists

To request an interview with a DCEG investigator, contact the NCI Office of Media Relations:


Phone: 240-760-6600

Fogarty Newsletter Feature

Read about Dr. Mbulaiteye's research on Burkitt lymphoma in the NIH Fogarty Global Health Matters newsletter. 

Article: Burkitt lymphoma studies may also advance research on other cancers, HIV, malaria

NIH Director's Seminar

Sam Mbulaiteye

Watch Dr. Mbulaiteye discuss his research at the 2015 NIH Director’s Seminar Series.

Video: Burkitt lymphoma: A model of polymicrobial carcinogenesis and global oncology

Spotlight on Investigator

Sam Mbulaiteye

Read more about Dr. Mbulaiteye in the November 2011 Linkage newsletter.

Sam Mbulaiteye, MBChB, M.Phil., M.Med.

Sam Mbulaiteye, MBChB, M.Phil., M.Med.

Organization:National Cancer Institute
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch
Address:NCI Shady Grove
Room 6E118


As a senior investigator in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB), Dr. Mbulaiteye focuses his research on unraveling the role of infections, immunity, and genetic factors in the etiology of Burkitt lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma. Both of these malignancies  are endemic in Africa and their risk is substantially increased in the setting of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Mbulaiteye received his primary medical degree from Makerere University, Kampala (1990). He earned advanced degrees in epidemiology and biostatistics (M.Phil.) from the University of Cambridge, U.K. (1994), and received specialization in internal medicine (M.Med.) from Makerere University (1996). He began his research career at the Uganda Cancer Institute (1994-1997) by leading the fieldwork on a large case-control study to measure the impact of HIV on cancer in children and adults. He transitioned to the Uganda Virus Research Institute where he tracked the population dynamics of HIV by measuring incidence and prevalence of HIV in a large rural general population in southwest Uganda in a study funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council. Dr. Mbulaiteye joined IIB as a research fellow in December 2000, and was awarded scientific tenure by the NIH and appointed senior investigator in 2013.

Dr. Mbulaiteye is a member of the World Federation of Scientists, the Uganda National Academy of Sciences, the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), Darwin College Society, and Cambridge Common Wealth Trust, as well as an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University School of Public Health. He is a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Cancer, Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, and Co-Editor-in-Chief, Infectious Agents and Cancer. At NCI, he currently serves on the DCEG Genotyping Review Committee and the NIH Tenure-Track Investigators Committee. 

Dr. Mbulaiteye is a recipient of the DCEG Outstanding Paper by a Fellow (2003), the NCI Directors Investigator Innovation Award (2008) and the NIH Award of Merit (2008), and was featured in an NCI Special Report: A Journey to Discovery, Journal of Minority Medical Students (2009).

Research Interests

Burkitt Lymphoma (BL)

A major focus of Dr. Mbulaiteye’s  research is to understand risk factors for Burkitt lymphoma (BL). BL is the most common childhood tumor in Africa, and infections with malaria and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) at an early age are widely accepted risk factors. Dr. Mbulaiteye seeks to measure the association between markers of malaria  (parasite prevalence, load, and genotype), immunology (antibodies protective or not for severe clinical malaria), and co-infection (EBV, HIV, stool parasites) with BL. In addition, he and his collaborators are studying age-specific patterns of endemic, sporadic, and AIDS-related BL seeking to identify etiological and/or biological factors associated with BL at different ages.

Dr. Mbulaiteye is a Principal Investigator of the Epidemiology of Burkitt Lymphoma in East-African Children and Minors (EMBLEM) study. Within this case-control study, he plans to investigate the association between functional and tag SNPs in malaria-resistance genes with BL, as well as other host genetic polymorphisms and EBV-related genetic variants. In addition, he is leading a pilot effort to investigate EBV genetic diversity through deep sequencing to further our understanding of EBV variants and their relationship to cancers such as BL. Finally, Dr. Mbulaiteye is conducting a tissue-based study of BL in the United States to investigate viral (EBV, HIV) and molecular markers (Bcl-2, MYC, Bcl-6) associated with BL at various ages.

Kaposi Sarcoma

Dr. Mbulaiteye’s research focuses on understanding environmental risk factors for Kaposi Sarcoma (KS) and Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV8). He is pursuing studies to investigate whether HHV8 and KS may be related to Th2-immunologic responses. This work may provide clues as to whether widespread infection with helminthic parasites can  lead to HHV8 viral reactivation and replication within individuals, and increases the spread of infection among the population. Dr. Mbulaiteye is examining the prevalence of HHV8 viremia and associated co-factors in a large nationally-representative population-based cohort from Uganda and data from the Uganda HIV/AIDS sero-Behavioral Survey (UHSBS) that was conducted in 2004 to 2005.

HIV/AIDS and Cancer

Dr. Mbulaiteye is using record-linkage methods to investigate the risk of BL, KS, and other cancers in people with HIV infection in Uganda and other resource-poor settings.