Sam M. Mbulaiteye, M.D.

Senior Investigator

Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch


9609 Medical Center Drive
Room SG/6E118
Rockville, MD 20850


Research Topics

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.


Dr. Mbulaiteye received his primary medical degree from Makerere University, Kampala (1990). He has 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 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) on cancer in children and adults. He transitioned to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) 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.

He 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).

Selected Publications

  1. Johnston WT, Mutalima N, Sun D, Emmanuel B, Bhatia K, Aka P, Wu X, Borgstein E, Liomba GN, Kamiza S, Mkandawire N, Batumba M, Carpenter LM, Jaffe H, Molyneux EM, Goedert JJ, Soppet D, Newton R, Mbulaiteye SM. Relationship between Plasmodium falciparum malaria prevalence, genetic diversity and endemic Burkitt lymphoma in Malawi. Sci Rep. 2014;4:3741.

  2. Aka P, Vila MC, Jariwala A, Nkrumah F, Emmanuel B, Yagi M, Palacpac NM, Periago MV, Neequaye J, Kiruthu C, Tougan T, Levine PH, Biggar RJ, Pfeiffer RM, Bhatia K, Horii T, Bethony JM, Mbulaiteye SM. Endemic Burkitt lymphoma is associated with strength and diversity of Plasmodium falciparum malaria stage-specific antigen antibody response. Blood. 2013;122(5):629-35.

  3. Mbulaiteye SM, Morton LM, Sampson JN, Chang ET, Costas L, de Sanjosé S, Lightfoot T, Kelly J, Friedberg JW, Cozen W, Marcos-Gragera R, Slager SL, Birmann BM, Weisenburger DD. Medical history, lifestyle, family history, and occupational risk factors for sporadic Burkitt lymphoma/leukemia: the Interlymph Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes Project. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2014;2014(48):106-14.

  4. Shebl FM, Emmanuel B, Bunts L, Biryahwaho B, Kiruthu C, Huang ML, Pfeiffer RM, Casper C, Mbulaiteye SM. Population-based assessment of kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus DNA in plasma among Ugandans. J Med Virol. 2013;85(9):1602-10.

This page was last updated on November 29th, 2016