Also known as cell path, cellular pathologists study tissue samples microscopically to establish the cause of illness. Tissue may be taken during surgery or at a postmortem. Diseases such as cancer are diagnosed by looking for abnormal features in tissue architecture.
Cytologists are best known for their work in screening cervical smears, but they also provide a non-gynaecological service investigating cellular components in samples, such as sputum. Like cellular pathology, specialised techniques are used to prepare and study samples of cellular materials.
Clinical chemists analyse blood and other biological fluids to help the diagnosis of diseases, such as diabetes. They also carry out toxicological studies, test kidney and liver functions and help to monitor drug therapies.
Haematologists study blood. They investigate the formation, composition, function and diseases of blood. Some diseases diagnosed in haematology are leukaemia, malaria and anaemia.
Immunologists deal with the conditions of the body’s immune system and its role in infectious diseases, parasitic infestations, allergies, tumour growth, tissue grafts and organ transplants. They are particularly important in the monitoring and treatment of AIDS.
Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and parasites which cause disease. They identify organisms and establish the antibiotic treatment required to kill them. Diseases they diagnose include: meningitis, tuberculosis and food poisoning.
Virologists study viruses and the disease caused by them such as COVID-19, German measles, HIV and chickenpox. They are also involved in monitoring the effects of vaccines.
Transfusion scientists identify blood groups for blood donation, ensuring that the correct grouped blood is matched to the patient due to receive the donation. They also ensure blood stocks are adequate for critical incidents such as road traffic accidents, operations and cancer treatments.
Biomedical science itself is an evolving science as it moves into new areas such as cytogenetics and molecular biology.