The Association of Clinical Scientists in Immunology merged with the Association for Clinical Biochemistry in 2007. Immunologists are represented within the ACB by the Immunology Professional Committee, which meets twice a year and represents immunologists on the various other ACB committees.
Clinical Immunologists follow their own training program to obtain registration as a Clinical Scientist in Immunology and take the FRCPath exams in Immunology.
Immunology is the study of the immune system, which protects us from infection. There are three main ways in which the immune system contributes to disease. Firstly, the immune system may be very active while fighting off infections, causing fever and inflammation. Secondly, it may be functioning poorly (immunodeficiency) which makes us less able to fight off infections. Immunodeficiency can occur because a component of the immune system is missing or because other factors are stopping it from working properly e.g. cancer, drugs, HIV infection. For more information about primary immunodeficiency, go to the Centre for Immunodeficiency website. Thirdly, the immune system may be inappropriately active either against the normal body (autoimmunity e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, coeliac disease) or against harmless substances (allergy e.g. asthma, hayfever, anaphylaxis).
The immunology laboratory performs tests which measure the concentration or function of various immune system components. These tests are useful in investigation of diseases including autoimmunity, immunodeficiency, allergy, HIV infection, and cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. For more information about a clinical immunology laboratory, go to the Virtual Laboratory website.
The role of the clinical immunologist is to understand and be able to perform the various tests, to interpret the test results in the context of the clinical symptoms, and to give advice to medical colleagues on appropriate tests to perform and the relevance of test results in individual cases. They may also evaluate new diagnostic methods before they are introduced into the routine laboratory, contribute to quality assurance (making sure that the laboratory tests give accurate results), and carry out research or assay development.