Division of Clinical Immunopathology

The Division of Clinical Immunopathology and Tissue Typing offers a wide range of clinical testing procedures. The diverse scope of this laboratory's services encompasses patient evaluation for atopy, immunodeficiences, acute and chronic infections, autoimmune disorders, complement function, and suitability as allograft recipients. The division also provides a comprehensive consultation service in all these areas. Its mission, within the health center environment, is to provide the highest quality of patient care through innovative testing and strict quality control and quality assurance. Academic excellence is fostered in an environment devoted to teaching both residents and medical students, and to the pursuit of basic and clinically oriented research in immunology.

Faculty

Clinical Services

The Division of Clinical Immunopathology offers a wide range of clinical immunologic testing procedures for diagnosis and monitoring of diseases where the pathogenesis involves components of the immune system. These include:

  • Serologic analyses for evaluation of antibodies to identify infectious diseases
  • Electrophoretic analysis of serum and urine to detect monoclonality of immunoglobulins and immunofixation for characterization of monoclonal proteins
  • Analysis of serum, urine and cerebrospinal fluids for quantitative and qualitative immunoglobulin abnormalities
  • Isoelectric focusing for detecting cerebral spinal fluid immunoglobulin abnormalities
  • Nephelometric quantitation of serum and cerebral spinal fluid proteins involved in the immunopathogenesis of disease
  • Allergen-specific immunoglobulin testing for allergies
  • Detection and characterization of autoantibodies in the evaluation of connective tissue and autoimmune diseases
  • Confirmatory serologic testing for diagnosis of HIV infection
  • Serological testing for hepatitis A, B and C
  • Analysis and characterization of cryoglobulins
  • Diagnostic procedures for syphilis, toxoplasma, mycoplasma
  • Detection of disease-specific antibodies for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella zoster, herpes simplex
  • Detection of tuberculosis infection

Research Activities

All professional staff of the division are involved with research and development, frequently in collaboration with members of other departments at UPMC or at other universities in the USA and other countries. Current research projects include:
  • Seroepidemiology and pathobiology of hepatitis and HIV virus infections
  • Enhancement of immune responses as an adjunct for the treatment and management of malignant disease
  • Analysis of abnormal immune responses in cancer
  • Characterization of the tumor immunoenvironment and its alterations during therapy
  • Development of novel immunotherapeutic modalities for cancer
  • Defining the role of immune cells in creation of premalignant niches
  • Characterization of intratumoral neoinnervation in disease progression
  • Evaluation of immunomodulating activity of neuroglial cells
  • Analysis of immunotoxicologic properties of nanomaterials
  • Innovative nanodelivery approaches to target immune regulatory cells in cancer
  • Designing improved testing algorithms for the newest generation of HIV testing
  • New testing for multiple myeloma to overcome therapeutic interferences that cause false positive results leading to misdiagnosis and possible over treatment

Teaching Activities

The division is strongly committed to teaching basic and clinical immunology to undergraduate biology majors, graduate students, medical students, pathology residents, postdoctoral fellows, and clinicians participating in continuing medical education programs. All pathology residents participate in a 4-week rotation in the division. During this time, they become acquainted with analytic methodologies, acquire expertise in immunofluorescence and serology, interpretation of test results, pitfalls, and expected follow-up. They prepare, with the assistance of one of the staff, cases for presentation at the weekly pathology resident clinical case conference. Many residents return for an elective rotation in their final year to update their skills. In addition, many 4th year medical students take a 4-week elective in the laboratory each year. Furthermore, medical students are invited to work on their summer clinical research project and several projects were successfully completed, including improved Western blot procedures for beta2T detection and isoelectrofocusing analysis of IgG production in spinal fluid. Medical students also participate in the Scholars research program with the division faculty. In addition, the Division is actively involved in international teaching hosting medical students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, and graduate students from Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and China, as well as organizing special tumor immunology and nanotoxicology courses for students and doctors in different countries. The Division is also involved in organization of various clinical and scientific conferences on immunodiagnostics and tumor immunology in the USA and Europe. Finally, Division faculty publish research and clinical results in peer-reviewed journals, prepared scientific reviews, participate in manuscript and grant review boards, and serve as Editors for a number of biomedical journals.

Training Activities

The Division does not maintain a fellowship training program. However, the research programs of the professional staff are actively involved in training of medical students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting physician/scientists. Visiting professionals from different countries were trained in the Division. Faculty of the Division also direct the Tumor Immunology Elective course for medical students. Summer medical and undergraduate student research program are also incorporated as part of the Division training effort. Division faculty also serve as mentors for research training for pathologists in the VA Hospital.

Laboratory Services

The division offers a wide range of clinical immunologic testing procedures. These include serologic analyses for evaluation of infectious diseases, electrophoretic analysis of serum, urine and cerebrospinal fluids for qualitative immunoglobulin abnormalities, nephelometric quantitation of major serum protein species, quantitative and functional analyses of complement, immunoglobulin quantitation, RAST testing for allergies, detection of autoantibodies in the evaluation of autoimmunity. The division actively participates in Community College teaching, rotation and consultation. Finally, consultation and data interpretation service for UPMC physicians and residents is provided daily.