Immunology is the study and management of the immune system. It essentially studies immune system malfunctions and subsequent diseases .
Immunology is the study and management of the immune system. It essentially studies immune system malfunctions and subsequent diseases caused by it such as autoimmunity, allergy, and cancer. Doctors who specialize in this field are called immunologists. Immunologists are either lab-based (focusing on research) or clinical immunologists who focus on the diagnosis and treatment of immunological diseases or complications such as hypersensitivities, transplant rejection, allergies, and malignant growth of cellular elements. They also focus on other disorders of other systems brought about by immune reactions. Tasked with the critical management of patients, Immunologists are often based in outpatient clinics, allergy clinics, and are often involved in bone marrow transplantation, gene therapy, or the use of antibodies or immunoglobulin in rare diseases. Of late, several common disorders such as Alzheimer’s, metabolic and cardiovascular issues are found to have links to immune system disorders. As such, the area is witnessing research and growth at an unprecedented rate; the COVID-19 pandemic has helped things too. Areas and projects that witnessed advancements include allergic diseases & immigration, psychological factors in atopic responses, the role of innate & adaptive immune systems in various patients, efforts to develop novel techniques that allow serum-specific IgE (immunoglobulin E) to be determined at the point of care, effective and safe drug testing, HIV resistance mechanisms, removal of unwanted cells through cell suicide etcetera. Many applications of immunology in various disciplines of medicine, such as organ transplantation, oncology, rheumatology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology, psychiatry and so on are witnessing growth.
Doctor of Medicine in Immunology is a course broadly based on applications of the field; that is, it is mostly based on clinical immunology. Diagnosis and management of various diseases such as immunodeficiency, HIV, leukemia, lymphoma all come under the ambits of immunology, and as such, the course and its syllabus are designed to have intricate branches to other fields too. The students would be covering topics such as Structure & functions of the immune system, Immunodiagnostics, Treatment of immunological diseases, Organ transplantation, Organ-specific immune-inflammatory diseases, Systemic immune diseases, Allergic diseases, Immunodeficiency, Infection and immunity, Host defense mechanism & inflammation, laboratory skills and management, rational use and interpretation of immunological tests, diagnostic synovial fluid aspiration & examination including polarized light microscopy, joint and soft-tissue injections with steroids, diagnosis of allergic diseases by skin prick test (SPT)/patch test, and more. In addition to these topics, research scholars are required to learn transplantation, stem-cell biology, and much more. Successful candidates are expected to have skills such as clinically diagnose, investigate and manage a wide variety of immune-related disorders, perform, interpret and manage the common laboratory techniques, plan and undertake research, teach the subject to students of the science, be able to consult and work with a team of other specialists as part of comprehensive treatment plans and be professional, ethical, compassionate, and inquisitive to further the realms of knowledge of the field.
The duration of the course is three years. Candidates having M.D. in medicine or pediatrics are eligible to pursue the course after securing required marks in national level entrance tests. During the duration of the course, students are expected to conduct research work in the form of thesis published or submitted for publication in National or International Journals. Career options are abundant in the field owing to the necessity of immunologists in various walks of medical science. Candidates can work as consultants, emergency health care specialists, lecturers, cytotechnologists, or as researchers in many government and pharmaceutical undertakings. Ph.D. programs for gifted research scholars are also available.