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São João Hospital Center Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department

Allergy and Clinical Immunology has been formally practiced in Hospital de São João since 1976, in the form of a specialized allergy consult. In 1984, the medical specialty known as Immunoallergology was created in Portugal, with a five-year training program, leading to the creation, in 1986, of the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Unit. In 1993, this unit has evolved to the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department.

The department has developed into one of the biggest and most respected centers in Portugal. Currently, we offer services in all areas of expertise of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, including specialized care to all age groups. Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department was certified as a GA2LEN Center in 2006 and has adopted a certified Quality Management Program since 2014 (ISO 9001). The team includes 8 Allergy and Clinical Immunology specialists, 9 residents, 2 lung function technicians and 2 dedicated nurses.

The Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department is part of São João University Hospital Center (CHUSJ). This is a university general hospital, being the largest hospital in Oporto. Its direct influence area includes a population of more than 330.000 inhabitants but, depending on the medical field, it works as a last instance for ~2.9million people.

CHUSJ is deeply tied to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, enabling remarkable research and teaching processes. CHUSJ is also a Clinical Research Center, providing clinical investigators with the necessary infrastructure and services to conduct high-quality clinical research and clinical trials from phase II to IV. In 2019, Hospital de São João will celebrate its 60 years of existence.

Clinical aspects

We have organized specialized consults for drug allergy, food allergy, severe asthma, allergy and sports, insect venom allergy, immunodeficiencies, skin allergy and angioedema.

To cover the specificities of children approach & pathology, we have organized a Pediatric Allergy Consult, reaching over 4000 consults during 2018. We also offer urgent and in-hospital medical care to our patients and provide specialized care to patients admitted to the hospital by other specialties.

We have access to a specialized day care hospital, where we perform drug and food challenges, and where patients receive hymenoptera venom immunotherapy, biological drugs and immunoglobulin G.

During the year of 2018, the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department has performed over 13000 consults, 5000 skin tests, and over 4000 allergen immunotherapy administrations, over 400 drug and food challenges and 60 drug desensitization procedures (mainly with cancer chemotherapy). The department also runs a Lung Function Lab, which produced over 3600 spyrometries with bronchodilation, 300 impulse oscillometry test, 2000 exhaled nitric oxide tests and 140 methacholine bronchial challenges.

Education and training

The Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department offers pre- and post-graduate training. We are currently responsible for the training of nine Allergy and Clinical Immunology residents and have been awarded full-training capacity by the Portuguese Medical Council.

We also offer allergy training to several other medical specialties and frequently receive residents from other parts of the world. Several members of the department are lecturers and assistants for the Oporto University, taking part in pre-graduate teaching and are also responsible for the scientific supervision of master and doctoral thesis.

Despite the Department’s focus being clinical practice, we currently take part in several clinical trials, observational and multicenter studies. In the last 3 years, we have been involved in the publication of over 40 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals; our research has also been shared in the most relevant national and international Allergy and Clinical Immunology scientific meetings, reaching over 100 posters and oral communications between 2015 and 2017.

Elements of our department regularly participate as speakers in national and international meetings and act as peer-reviewers for top medical journals in Allergy field.

Networking/ Advocacy

The department regularly takes part in patient advocacy activities and engages in activities intended to raise awareness about allergic diseases within the general population. Because Allergy and Clinical Immunology is still a largely unknown medical specialty, every year we promote meetings targeted for other medical specialties. Several members of the department, via their role in Portuguese Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology committees, have produced educational materials in Portuguese, for patients and physicians.