Immunology for Basic Physician Trainees

About The Course

For a video of Prof Fulcher explaining the immunology4bpts course, see Extras

The immunology4bpts course aims to provide essential knowledge about the basic science of the immune system, and how this translates into clinical medicine. It will give a thorough coverage of basic immunobiology, and use this background to explain some specific immunological conditions, including immunodeficiency and vasculitis. The practice of medicine right now is in the process of being revolutionised by the advent of new therapeutics, mostly biologicals, almost all targeting basic immunological mechanisms in order to alter disease processes, and this is occurring in almost all specialities of medicine. This course will therefore give trainees of all disciplines the skills necessary to understand these agents into the future and be able to apply those skills to whatever speciality they choose.


In doing so, the course will explain the basic concepts of immunobiology necessary for the Basic Science paper of the RACP part I examination, and build on this knowledge to present immunological diseases in that context, of relevance to the Clinical medicine section of the part I examination.


Course Content

The course will consist of a series of lectures with appropriate breaks. A comprehensive set of colour notes will be provided. The course includes a number of explanatory videos, and will finish with a session of 50 MCQs to test and consolidate the various aspects of the lecture content. There will be ample time to ask questions during the breaks, so bring those problematic MCQs with you, or preferably email them to Prof Fulcher ahead of time and he will try to work them into the sessions.


Paediatric trainees have also found the content to be very useful for their preparation, and there will be an extra session on paediatric immunodeficiency aimed specifically at this group.



This course is different to any biology course you have ever attended! Traditionally the science of the immune system is taught, and then the clinical immunology, where that science is used to understand clinical medicine. Many graduates struggle with the science, but are much more comfortable with the clinical lectures.


Science drives clinical understanding. This year the course will be different to previous years; the science and clinical applications will be combined and presented together! So, one aspect of  the immune system is covered, and then immediately, the clinical conditions that arise when that aspect goes wrong. For example, you learn about the IgA molecule, and then IgA deficiency; about IgG, and then about how IgG monoclonal antibodies are generated and used to treat disease. And about IgG deficiencies such as CVID. Having covered Th2 responses, allergic disease is discussed, and the use of monoclonal antibodies to block Th2 cell cytokine products for the management of allergic diseases; T-cell co-stimulation immediately leads on to discussion of the blockade of co-stimulators to treat cancer......the science will always be tied to how it can be applied to immune diseases and their treatment.


Reflect on this! The other innovation this year will be to break lectures into blocks of 25-30 minutes, and to intersperse these blocks with 5-10 mins of reflection on the presented material, in order to consolidate understanding. Reflection will include revision MCQs, or anaylsis of extracts or abstracts from the current literature. This approach furthers the command of the topic, as an understanding of the immune system is immediately applied to understanding the latest literature in clinical and applied immunology.