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Clinical training in immunology

Clinical immunologists are doctors who specialise in the care of patients with failure of the immune (defence) system (immunodeficiency) and heightened immune reactivity (allergy and autoimmunity) due to infections, allergic reactions, vasculitis and transplants.

Watch the video below as Dr Rohit Ghure explains all about the speciality and what the job role involves. 

Nature of the work 

Clinical immunologists in the UK undertake a range of clinical and laboratory duties, but their core activities are in the clinical management of patients. Their clinical work is largely outpatient based and involves: 

  • primary immunodeficiency 
  • allergy 
  • autoimmune rheumatic diseases and systemic vasculitis 
  • joint paediatric clinics for children with immunodeficiency 
  • immunoglobulin infusion clinics for patients with antibody deficiency 

Their laboratory work underpins the diagnosis and monitoring of immunological diseases. They have responsibility for: 

  • clinical liaison 
  • interpretation and validation of results 
  • quality assurance and assay development 

A minority of immunologists (less than ten percent) also provide laboratory support for transplantation, histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) and tissue typing. 

Immunologists provide support for the diagnosis and management of conditions such as: 

  • autoimmune diseases such as Type-1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease 
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 
  • other severe/systemic infections 
  • multiple sclerosis 
  • tuberculosis 

Common procedures/interventions 

These include: 

  • use of drugs to suppress the immune system 
  • intravenous immunoglobulin therapies for antibody replacement and immunomodulation 
  • monoclonal antibody therapies e.g. Rituximab for the treatment of autoimmune conditions. 

Sub-specialties 

Immunologists may develop sub-specialty interests such as: 

  • rheumatology 
  • HIV medicine 
  • transplantation 

Knowledge of immunology is also important in many other specialities including:  

  • rheumatology 
  • oncology 
  • respiratory medicine 
  • infectious diseases 
  • allergy 
  • dermatology 

This page was adapted from the NHS Health Careers website.