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Immunology for Clinicians: A “Trojan Horse” Approach

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Science  24 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5999, pp. 1613-1614
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186963

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To determine how a program for learning immunology could be most useful for clinicians in South Africa, we consulted with the country's 20 leading HIV-specialist pediatricians. They told us that immunology and its underlying concepts were perceived to be complex and arcane and that there was a need for immunology to be better integrated into “real-life” clinical practice. Most saw immunology as predominantly a laboratory science with little application to clinical practice; this highlighted a gap between clinical management of patients and theoretical understanding of the etiology and immunopathogenesis of disease. We speculated that one of the possible reasons for this perception and knowledge gap is that immunology is not an independent discipline within the South African medical curriculum. Instead, it is diffusely integrated into disciplines such as pathology or internal medicine and is not specifically provided for during post-degree training.