This area provides information about immunology and what immunologists perform in ther employment.
What is Immunology?
Immunology is the study of how the body resists diseases with its immune system. Clinical immunology is a rapidly developing medical specialty.
What is an Immunologist and what do they do?
An immunologist is a specialized scientist who measures antibodies, performs blood studies, investigates transplant rejections and studies the components of a patients immune system. Immunologists may have a clinical or a laboratory specialty. Each immunologist works with other clinical specialists to develop improved treatments for the immune system. Clinical Immunologists may help treat diseases like AIDS, allergies or leukemia using sophisticated molecular techniques.
What qualifications do immunologists need?
Most often a clinical immunologist has a degree in Life Science such as Biology, Microbiology or Biochemistry. Other academic backgrounds related to medicine such as Medical Physics, Medical Electronics or Biotechnology may also be useful.
A fully trained immunologist has a basic undergraduate education in a related science field and has completed a graduate program which includes a rotation period at a hospital under the direction of a qualified professional. The details of this higher level education vary in different countries. The criterion of supervised professional training, as in a residency or internship, remains constant. This level of training may require up to three years and is available at a wide variety of laboratories.
What subjects might immunologists cover in their coursework?
The study of immunology includes immunodeficiency, allergy, autoimmunity,
immune complex diseases, immunization and immunotherapy, lympho-proliferative diseases, and study of transplants ,pre-and post-operative.
These topics also represent many areas of specialization which immunologists may choose. Upper level coursework provides systematic grounding in the theory and practice of immunological techniques. It also provides an introduction to the basics of immuno-pathology and clinical immunology. This course of study also introduces the candidates to methods of research and development and gives an appreciation of how laboratories function in hospitals and communities.
To properly apply laboratory results, an immunologist must have a detailed knowledge of the healthy immune system and understand its role in the control of infection and in inflammation. Immunologists also need to understand the processes and effects of inappropriate stimulation of the immune system which are associated with development of immunological disease. It is not enough to simply study antibodies and measure proteins.
What type of tasks do immunologists perform?
Four basic types of laboratory tests are common to most immunological work: Serology, Leucocyte analysis, Immuno-histo-chemistry and Hypersensitivity testing.
Immunologists analyze the components of blood and tissues to detect antibodies, measure immune complexes, measure proteins and immunoglobulin levels. They examine blood to monitor immuno-deficiencies, including AIDS. Study of the function of leucocytes and molecular analysis of the immune system and its genetics is becoming increasingly important Additional tasks include analysis of leucocytes in both inflammatory and malignant skin and lymphoid organs and monitoring and diagnosing allergies. These tests may be diagnostic, or may measure the pathology of a disease or may provide insight for prognosis.
Most immunological diseases are life-long and can be expensive. Early detection is very important. Accuracy is imperative.
What types of companies employ immunologists?
Major medical hospitals often have their own immunologists on staff. An immunologist may be employed by hospitals, private practices, clinical and academic research laboratories, universities, pharmaceutical industries, public health and other governmental agencies.