How do you train allergists, rheumatologists and clinical immunologists who will take care of us in the future?
Perhaps in no other field of medicine has the research efforts of the last 35 years produced so many innovative discoveries as in the field of immunology, the scientific discipline that provides the rationale for new treatments for allergic diseases, for arthritis and other conditions caused by our immune systems. New strategies to regulate the immune system and exploit its powers benefit not only patients with allergic and rheumatologic diseases but also patients with cancer, diabetes, cardiac and pulmonary diseases-in fact, most chronic medical conditions.
This expansion of knowledge has created both difficulties and opportunities in training physicians and basic scientists who can efficiently exploit this burgeoning knowledge base. Each year, the Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology section at Baylor College of Medicine proudly graduates post-doctoral trainees who, in the course of the 2-year training program mandated by the American Boards in Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, have gained sufficient knowledge not only to treat the common clinical problems in this field but also to recognize and devise treatments for patients with autoimmune and allergic diseases that occur so infrequently that trainees have had little direct experience with these diseases during their training.
Rational treatment of this second category of patients requires in depth knowledge of biological mechanisms that regulate immune system function and the ability to use this knowledge to devise novel treatments that have never before been systematically evaluated to control these diseases.