What Is an Infectious Diseases Specialist?

Infectious diseases (ID) are the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 170,000 people every year.

Researcher holding petri dish

While physicians hoped that the development of antibiotics would make such infections a thing of the past, deaths have doubled since the 1980s. With new emerging infections, pandemics, and growing numbers of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, specialists trained to diagnose and treat ID are now more important than ever.

What Do ID Specialists Do?

ID specialists are medical detectives. They are called upon by other physicians to help diagnose the most complex and elusive cases and to develop strategies to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases affecting all parts of the body. Not only do ID physician treat hospitalized patients with infections, they do many other things, including:

  • Treating chronic or less severe infections in the clinic
  • Helping hospitals control and manage the use of antibiotics
  • Providing treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS and other conditions in which immune systems are compromised
  • Working with hospitals to keep patients safe from infections
  • Diagnosing rare and unusual infections among returned travelers from tropical locales
  • Helping develop new strategies to treat and prevent infections among patients in the developing world

How Are ID Specialists Trained?

After completion of a three-year residency program in Internal Medicine, ID fellows complete a two-to-four-year period of training in ID. It includes inpatient and outpatient medicine, coursework, and conducting research. The ID Training Program has a distinct focus on preparation for academic careers in clinical or laboratory investigations. The Division of Infectious Diseases offers a breadth of opportunities ranging from international clinical research and hospital epidemiology to translational bench research, with the goal of preparing trainees as independent investigators.

Why Support the UCLA ID Training Program?

Existing and emerging infectious diseases are an ongoing threat to society. From exotic infections such as malaria to infections in hospitals such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), UCLA ID specialists have been involved in some of the most important areas in medicine over the past 20 years. Graduates of the ID Training Program in the UCLA Division of Infectious Diseases have gone on to careers in ID practices and as leaders in basic science and clinical efforts related to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and transplants. In the realm of global health, UCLA physicians are studying new treatments for HIV/AIDS, antibiotic resistance, emerging infections such as H1N1 influenza, and possible bioterrorism-related infections. These ID specialists are involved in the management of patients recovering from complex surgery, organ transplantation, and/or trauma, as well as in the ongoing care of those with a wide variety of infections. The UCLA CARE Clinic provides world-renowned specialized treatment for individuals with HIV and AIDS. The UCLA Center for Travel and Tropical Medicine educates and immunizes people traveling to foreign countries and treats patients returning with symptoms of infection. The busy inpatient and outpatient practices care for a wide range of infections including meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, tuberculosis, bone and joint infections, and viral infections.

How Can You Help?

In order to continue to provide the outstanding care for which the Division of Infectious Diseases is known, UCLA depends upon resources that extend beyond those currently available in today's economic environment. With financial support for public institutions dwindling, academic medical centers are struggling to find funding for innovative programs and projects and for the continued training of the next generation of specialists. Your commitment to support the UCLA Division of Infectious Diseases and its ID Training Program will play a significant role in building upon their already considerable strengths. It will accelerate the pace of biomedical research and training that will ultimately improve the treatment of ID for generations to come, locally, nationally, and globally.

By check via USPS:
The UCLA Foundation
PO Box 7145
Pasadena, CA 91109-9903

Contact UCLA Health Sciences Development

10945 Le Conte Avenue, Suite 3132
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(844) 474-4387
[email protected] 

Contact us for more information:
Dr. Judith Currier, Division Chief
(310) 825-7225, Administrative office