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The science and practice of human immunology

The science and practice of human immunology
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CIS 2014 School in Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases, September 18-21, 2014, Shore Club, Miami, Florida

The Summer School in Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases took place at the Shore Club South Beach in Miami, Florida. This was the 13th meeting sponsored by the Clinical Immunology Society on Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases and proved to be another astounding success.

The Summer School is geared toward fellows-in-training, with a primary goal of education in the diagnosis, pathogenesis, and treatment of primary immunodeficiency diseases. The secondary goals of the Summer School are to attract and develop future scientists in academic medicine and to enhance the awareness of clinical immunology and its importance in scientific discoveries and clinical applications. This program encourages student interaction with faculty and thought leaders in immunology in a casual and intimate setting.

Ten faculty members were selected to act as mentors to the attendees, attend the summer school, and give didactic presentations during the program.  The faculty consisted of the following members:

Charlotte Cunningham-Rundles, MD PhD • Mount Sinai Medical Center • New York, NY
Kathleen Sullivan, MD PhD • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia • Philadelphia, PA

Thomas A. Fleisher, MD • National Institutes of Health • Bethesda, MD
Elie Haddad, MD PhD • CHU Ste-Justine, University of Montreal • Montreal, Canada
Steven M. Holland, MD • NIH NIAID • Bethesda, MD
Luigi D. Notarangelo, MD • Harvard Medical School • Boston, MA
Hans D. Ochs, MD • University of Washington School of Medicine • Seattle, WA
Jordan Orange, MD, PhD • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia • Philadelphia, PA
Sergio D. Rosenzweig, MD, PhD • National Institutes of Health • Bethesda, MD
Troy Torgerson, MD, PhD • University of Washington • Seattle, WA

Applications/Selection Process
Participants should be within their last years of fellowship training or first years of academic appointments and may hold an MD or equivalent: selected candidates with a PhD and intent to concentrate their studies on these diseases may also apply. Candidates may have a background in immunology, allergy/immunology, infectious diseases, internal medicine, rheumatology, hematology, or laboratory immunology.

All participants must submit a case report which will be presented for discussion.  Alternatively, cases with diagnostic dilemmas which could be discussed were accepted and completed research projects germane to the field of primary immune deficiency were also acceptable.

Applicants are selected by the faculty based upon credentials, level of training, letter of recommendation and the interest in the case report or research project. The final selection is made to include a diverse participant base of both male/female and domestic/international attendees.

Ninety-one applications were received for the School. Thirty-three participants were selected. Twenty-four of these individuals were from the US and Canada and nine were international participants.

Countries Represented:
Costa Rica
United States

Career Planning/Mentoring
Each participant is assigned a faculty member to serve as a mentor to guide them through the development of their presentation. During the School time was set aside for a career planning discussion at which time the fellows may interact with their mentors in a casual setting to gain advice on their future career choices. Past participants noted that they received helpful advice from the faculty regarding their future career choices and enjoyed this networking opportunity. Many of the faculty members stay in contact with their fellows well after the School has ended and continue the mentoring process.              

The structure of the Summer School is for each attendee to present a case and for there to be a group discussion of appropriate management or diagnostic strategies. The senior faculty members bring a wealth of experience and are selected to represent specific interests. In addition to providing valuable insights into the cases, the faculty also present state-of-the-art lectures on their subject of interest. A faculty member is also selected to moderate each session. Patients with primary immune deficiencies are not common at most Allergy / Immunology training programs and the Summer School provides an opportunity for fellows and junior faculty to gain important expertise before launching their own careers.

Once again this year, mystery cases were presented by the faculty on the last day of the School. These case-based discussions of common genetic findings with particular attention to mis-attribution of findings allow the fellows to engage in real-life interpretation.

Participants are supplied with a final program that includes a glossary of newly learned concepts or terms that previous school attendees had not heard of before, but learned during the schools. Faculty comments on the educational points are provided as subheadings.

Participants are also given a flash drive at the conclusion of the School containing the PowerPoint presentations, protocols for laboratory assays and diagnostic protocols to use as learning aids, and key articles selected by the faculty on immunodeficiency.

Evaluation Results
All summer school fellows evaluate the program for merit as a professional advancement and learning opportunity and from the point of view of venue, organization, etc. The previous Summer Schools have been immensely successful rating the experience as extremely valuable. The attendees form a network of physicians who communicate and share information and the experience crystallizes their desire to work in the field of Immunology.

This year pre and post evaluations were given to help measure the success of the School. A complete overview of the evaluations are enclosed, however some highlights to note include:

  • Prior the School, 54% of the fellows noted having a fair knowledge level on the diagnosis, pathogenesis, and treatment of PID while only 46% noted their level of knowledge prior to the School was good. After the School, 92% of the fellows stated having a good or excellent level of knowledge on the diagnosis, pathogenesis, and treatment of PID and only 8% remained at a fair level.
  • Prior to the School, 25% of the fellows noted having a fair or poor awareness of clinical immunology and its importance in scientific discoveries and clinical applications while 64% said they had good or excellent awareness. After the School, 100% of the fellows noted they now had good or excellent awareness.
  • Prior to the School, 60% of fellows noted having a developed network of physicians who treat PID diseases to consult with regarding patient care while 39% were neutral or disagreed. After the School, 96% of fellows said they agreed or strongly agreed to have this network of physicians.

Corporate Support
Grants from the following companies and government agencies enabled CIS to conduct this summer school:
Baxter Bioscience
CSL Behring
Octapharma USA
Vidara Therapeutics