The clinical practice of Immunology, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) encompasses clinical and laboratory activity dealing with the study, diagnosis and management of patients with diseases resulting from disordered immunological mechanisms, and conditions in which immunological manipulations form an important part of therapy.
In the UK, the practice of immunology largely conforms to this WHO definition, with Immunologists providing combined clinical and laboratory services for patients with immunodeficiency, autoimmune disease, systemic vasculitis and allergy.
Clinical Immunology has evolved over the past two decades from a predominant laboratory base to a combined clinical and laboratory specialty. The clinical work of Immunologists is largely out-patient based and involves primary immunodeficiency, allergy, autoimmune rheumatic disease and systemic vasculitis (jointly with Rheumatologists), joint paediatric clinics for children with immunodeficiency and allergy and immunoglobulin infusion clinics for patients with antibody deficiency. On the laboratory front, Consultant Immunologists are responsible for directing diagnostic immunology services and perform a wide range of duties including clinical liaison, interpretation and validation of results, quality assurance and assay development.
The variety of clinical problems encountered by an Immunologist and the opportunity to solve difficult diagnostic problems in patients with undefined immunodeficiencies or complex multi-system disease brings with it a huge intellectual buzz, not to mention the excitement of working in a specialty, which is closely linked to cutting edge science and new immunomodulatory therapies.
Wales has one training post for Clinical Immunology, based at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.
STC Chair and Training Programme Director - Dr Stephen Jolles