Structure: Immunology Professional Committee
Who are we?
The Association of Clinical Scientists in Immunology merged with the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine 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.
What do Clinical Immunologists do?
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 active to fight infections and mount an immune response resulting in fever, inflammation and eventual removal of the offending pathogen. It also results in the immune system retaining a very good memory of that pathogen which enables the immune system to mount a rapid and even more effective response to that pathogen should it decide to infect again. Secondly, the immune system 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 and HIV infection. For more information about primary immunodeficiency, visit the OMIM-online Mendelian Inheritance in Man website at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/omim/ and also www.pia.org.uk/index.htm, which are both well referenced sources of information on inherited immunodeficiency disorders. Thirdly, the immune system may be inappropriately active (hypersensitive) against the normal body which results in autoimmunity and includes diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosis and coeliac disease. Alternatively the immune system may become inappropriately active against harmless substances resulting in allergy e.g. asthma, hayfever and anaphylaxis. For more information on Allergy and developments in allergy go to www.pslgroup.com//allergies.htm
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, visit the 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.
Overview / Training for Clinical Immunology
For details of an overview of Clinical Immunology in the NHS and Training click here