The American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology (ABMLI) certifies doctoral-level immunologists seeking to direct laboratories engaged in the practice of medical laboratory immunology. ABMLI certification is recognized by federal and state governmental agencies as a significant component toward meeting licensure requirements to direct laboratories engaged in the microbiological diagnosis of human disease. It is recognized under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 final rule and in the 11 states that require licensure: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia. 

Once certified, the ABMLI requires its Diplomates to recertify every three years.

UPDATE: The ABMLI will phase out its certification exam; the last exam will be offered in August 2017. The final application deadline will be June 1, 2016. The ABMLI will continue to serve its Diplomates through recertification, maintaining an active roll of Diplomates and verification of certification status.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has confirmed that it will continue to recognize ABMLI certification as a personnel requirement for high-complexity laboratory directors even though the exam will no longer be offered. Learn more about the phase out. 


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Please read the eligibility criteria carefully. If you fail to meet these criteria, your application will be denied and your application fee will not be refunded.

You must meet the criteria of one of the “plans” below to apply and sit in for the ABMLI exam:  

Plan I: Applicants must possess a doctorate and complete a minimum of three years of postdoctoral experience, as defined below. 

Plan II: Applicants must possess a doctorate, complete two years of postdoctoral experience and one additional year of postdoctoral training, as defined below.

Plan III: Applicants must possess a doctorate and complete two years of postdoctoral training in a CPEP-approved program, as defined below.

All training and experience requirements must be met after the doctoral degree has been awarded.


Applicants must possess a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree with special training and experience in immunology or clinical laboratory immunology. The degrees of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.), or Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) may be accepted if your postdoctoral training and experience is deemed appropriate by the Credentials Committee. Degrees must have been granted by member institutions of the American Medical Association, veterinary schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, or by other institutions having satisfactory standards in the opinion of the Board.

Degrees gained by applicants educated outside of the United States and Canada must be evaluated by World Education Services, Inc. and deemed equivalent to those earned at an accredited institution in the United States. 


Postdoctoral experience is a minimum of 30 hours per week spent in a laboratory actively involved in medical laboratory immunology as defined by this Board and should involve familiarity and direct experience with a broad range of diagnostic procedures, including interpretation and laboratory management, as well as supervisory duties.

The cumulative training and/or experience must include the following minimum percentages of time devoted to each of the listed areas:

  • Administrative and management activities (5%)
    Examples include:
    • Experience with accreditation (CAP, Joint Commission, CLIA) protocols and inspections
    • Quality Assurance reviews/proficiency testing
    • Budgeting
    • Test menu selection in consultation with healthcare providers
    • Assay and equipment evaluations and validations
    • Personnel management
      • Accreditation
      • Competency
    • Interaction with local or state health dept.
    • Laboratory safety
  • Diagnostic and clinical service (50%)
    Examples include:
    • Assay selection
    • Methods
      • Hands on performance
      • Didactic training in method principles
    • Assay interpretation
      • Infectious disease
      • Autoimmunity
      • Immune deficiencies
      • Leukemia/lymphoma/immuoproliferative disorders
      • Transplantation/HLA
      • Tumor markers
    • Interaction with clinicians regarding test interpretations
    • Assay Validation
      • IVD/ASR/LDT validation
      • CAP/CLIA/Other regulatory requirements
    • Assay troubleshooting
    • Working with reference lab directors for proper assay selection and interpretation
    • Clinical trials
  • Research (5%)
    Examples include:
    • Project design
    • Grant preparation
    • Conducting experiments
    • Paper preparation and submission
    • National/local meeting presentations
  • Teaching of basic and clinical laboratory immunology (5%)
    Examples include:
    • Lecture/seminar preparation
    • Instructing technologists
    • Instructing residents
    • Instructing medical, med tech, or graduate students

The minimum percentages in each area must be met and the percentages spent in each area must add up to 100%. Experience falling outside of the described categories will be scrutinized for acceptability by the Board.

Relevant predoctoral experience, such as supervising or directing a high complexity lab, may be evaluated by the Credentials Committee to determine if it meets the experience requirement.


CPEP-approved fellowship programs prepare postdoctoral-level individuals (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., Sc.D., D.O., and Dr. P.H.) for leadership roles in the clinical microbiology or immunology professions. Programs are located in medical centers in locations around the U.S. 


Postdoctoral training must be gained in a setting where a broad range of immunologic procedures are performed under the direction of a qualified immunologist. This setting should be in conjunction with either a clinically oriented immunology service or a basic research laboratory utilizing multiple procedures applicable to medical laboratory immunology. You must spend a minimum of 30 hours per week in this setting.

Note: Applicants who will complete the requisite training and experience within 60 days following the exam date are eligible to apply.



Applications are accepted throughout the year, however, your non-refundable application fee and all supporting documents must be received no later than June 1, 2016 to sit for the August 2016 exam. Your application cannot be evaluated until all materials are received.

UPDATE: The ABMLI is phasing out the certification exam, applications will not be accepted after June 1, 2016. 


Follow the instructions below to apply:

  1. Create a Webassessor account. 

    After you create a login name, you will be asked to create a profile. Please complete all fields in the profile to expedite the processing of your application. You will receive an automated email with your login name and password. Keep this email for your records. If your application is approved, your login information will be required to register for the exam. 

  2. Pay the application fee.

    The non-refundable application fee is paid through ASMscience. You will need to create an account and log in. You will find the application fees by clicking on the grey “Certification” tab, scrolling down to “ABMLI Application Fee”, and clicking “Add to Cart”. You can then proceed to checkout. The application fee is $450 for ASM members and $575 for non-members, both in U.S. currency. Checks and money orders will not be accepted. Your application cannot be processed until this fee has been paid. If your application is approved, you must pay an additional fee of $400 to register for the exam.

  3. Submit official graduate transcripts.

    Photocopies will not be accepted.

    If you were educated within the U.S. or Canada, official transcripts must be mailed from the issuing institution directly to:

    American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology
    American Society for Microbiology
    1752 N Street, N.W. 
    Washington, DC 20036-2904

    If you were educated outside the U.S. or Canada, your original, official graduate transcripts (not photocopies) must be evaluated by 
    World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a process which may take several months. WES must send your U.S. degree equivalency statement directly to the ABMLI address above. A document-by-document evaluation will suffice. Transcripts received directly from a foreign institution or translation of transcripts from such institutions will not be accepted by the ABMLI. For applicants to be considered eligible to sit for the ABMLI exam, their degrees earned outside the U.S. or Canada must be deemed equivalent to those earned at an U.S. accredited institution. Transcripts and WES evaluations will not be returned to applicants. No other transcript agency evaluations will be accepted.

  4. Note: If the name on your transcript(s) does not match the name on your application form and/or reference letters, you must submit a certified copy of your marriage license as part of your application.

  5. Ask your supervisor to complete the online reference form.

    References in letter form will not be accepted by the ABMLI.

    The minimum work experience requirement must be documented through the use of an online reference form(s) completed by your current or former direct supervisor(s). Submit only as many reference forms as are necessary to document the minimum requirement.

    If you have completed a CPEP-approved training program, you must have your program director submit a reference form on your behalf.

    The reference must include his/her business email address, such as  Yahoo, hotmail, gmail or general email addresses, such as, are not acceptable. An automatic submission confirmation email will be sent to the reference and applicant upon submission.

    The references provide reviewers with an adequate understanding of the depth of your training and/or experience. References will be verified.

  6. Applicants are encouraged, but not required to submit a Curriculum Vitae or NIH biosketch to supplement their application. 


Remember that your application is not complete until all of the following is done:

  • Create a Webassessor Account
  • Pay the application fee on ASMscience 
  • Mail official transcripts or transcript evaluation
  • Complete online reference form(s) from your current and/or former supervisor(s)
  • If applicable, send certified copy of your marriage license or name change certificate
  • Optional: Curriculum Vitae or NIH Biosketch

No new applications will be accepted after the 2016 exam period. 

The ABMLI does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, mental or physical disability, or age. The ABMLI complies with the policies set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.



Once all application materials have been received, you will receive an email stating when you will be notified of your application’s review. In general, application results are sent out within two-to-three weeks of an application becoming complete. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Credentials Committee. Once eligible, you must take the exam within one year of approval or a new application will be required. Therefore, you are advised not to apply until you are ready to take the exam. Once approved, you will be sent an email containing instructions for registering for the exam. This includes, selecting your local testing center, your desired date and time, and paying the exam registration fee of $400. The exam registration window opens on June 15 and closes on August 24 of each year. You are advised to register for the exam once it opens to ensure maximum flexibility in selecting at your desired testing location and time.


Exam Information

UPDATE: The ABMLI is phasing out its certification exam; the last exam will be administered in August 2017 at testing centers located around the world. 


The objective is to measure your knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and clinical judgment in subject areas considered necessary for the effective directorship of a laboratory engaged in the practice of medical laboratory immunology.


The computer-based exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions with only one correct answer.

You can move forward and back through the questions while examining and are allowed six hours to complete the exam. 


  • Two types of questions are incorporated in the exam:
    • Questions designed to test recall of basic knowledge, direct interpretation of data, or simple synthesis of information
    • Questions that require a higher level of thought process, reasoning skills, or interpretation of data to arrive at the correct answer.
  • In some cases, questions may require calculations. Examples of such questions include assessment of sensitivity, specificity, dilution factors, and cost-accounting results.
  • Questions are updated and reevaluated annually. You should expect to see questions on technical advances or issues that occurred during the past year

Learn more about how a question is developed.

Responsibilities and roster of the Exam Development Committees.


The certification boards of the American College of Microbiology use a criterion-referenced scoring system. 
You are not graded on a curve and do not compete against each other.

Learn more about criterion-referencing, discrimination, and scoring.


Exam results are emailed by November 1 to the email address provided in your Webassessor profile. Please be sure to keep your contact information in your Webassessor profile updated to ensure you receive correspondence from ABMLI.


The ABMLI pass rate is available for 2010-2015.


Applicants have three exam cycles from their approval date to pass the exam. This means that if you do not pass the exam the first time you take it, you can take the exam up to two more times under the same application. You must pay the exam registration fee of $400 each time you register to take the exam. If you fail three times with the same application, a new application and fee is required. The exam will be offered in August 2016, February 2017 and August 2017.


Please plan to arrive at the testing center no more than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. The check-in process should only take five minutes.

You must bring the following with you to the testing center:

  • Your Test Taker Authorization Code. The proctor cannot launch the test without this code. This code will be included in the confirmation email you are sent when you register for the exam.
  • Two forms of identification, one must be a current, government-issued, photo ID such as:
    • State-issued driver’s license or identification card
    • Passport
    • Military identification
    • National identification card
  • The other can be a non-photo identification such as:
    • Credit card
    • Check cashing card
    • Bank debit card
    • Student ID from an accredited school

Both forms of identification can be a government-issued photo ID.

NOTE: Both forms of ID must show your name exactly as it appears in your Webassessor profile.


The exam has 30 case studies, which contain a case history, clinical situation or other problem similar to one that may be faced by a medical immunology laboratory director. Case studies are associated with questions based on major topics involved in medical laboratory immunology. The remaining 170 questions are multiple-choice questions.

Questions are distributed among four broad areas and 24 specific categories that are described below: 

Domain I: Basic Immunologic Mechanisms.
This domain comprises approximately 20% of the exam. Five categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Antigens and antibodies. The classes of antibodies, structure and function of antibodies, chemistry of antigen-antibody interactions, determination of affinity and avidity, epitope mapping, generation of diversity and immunogenicity
  • Cells and tissues involved in the immune system. Lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils; cell subpopulations; cell markers; functional differentiation and maturation; role in the immune response; lymph node, spleen, thymus, mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue, bone marrow structure and function, antigen presenting cells (dendritic cells and lymphocytes), and CD proteins
  • Cell cooperation and immune regulation. Cellular interactions among the various cells involved in immune responsiveness; cellular activation, signal transduction; apoptosis; immunization and adjuvants; major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction; mechanisms of action of immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory drugs; T regulatory cells, T cell excision circles; cytokines, such as interleukins, interferons, adhesion molecules, chemokines, and growth factors; toll-like receptors (TLR) and killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR)
  • Effector mechanisms. Protective and destructive effects of immunologic reactions on the host, microbial and tumor immunity, autoimmunity, transplantation immunity, immunotherapy, the process of inflammation and the cells involved in inflammation, and the structure and function of complement proteins
  • Mediators. Cytokines, such as interleukins, interferons, chemokines, adhesion molecules and growth factors involved in the immune response, and other soluble mediators

Domain II: Methodology.
This domain comprises approximately 30% of the exam. Six categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to:

  • Assays involving antigen/antibody reactions. Precipitation, agglutination, flocculation, hemolysis, radioimmunoassay (RIA), enzyme immunoassay (EIA), immunoblots, chemiluminescence, immunofluorescence assays, multiplex bead assays; select methods to use in given circumstances
  • Complement assays. Various procedures to measure concentration and activity of complement components, and specimen collection
  • Phagocyte assays. Types of procedures, appropriate use, specimen collection, controls, calculations, and interpretation of results
  • Cell-mediated immunity assays. In vitro and in vivo assays, including skin tests, proliferation, cytotoxicity, and mediator release assays; advantages and disadvantages of procedures; controls; interpretation of results
  • Molecular biology-based techniques. Principles and performance of blotting techniques, amplication technologies, various DNA- and RNA-based analyses; fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH); microarray technology; advantages and disadvantages
  • Instrumentation. Microscopy, flow cytometry, automated immunoassay systems, and other instruments and equipment used in a clinical immunology laboratory; the use of these instruments, basic understanding of the principles of operation, controls, calibration, and quality assurance related to the procedures

Domain III: Immunodiagnosis and Clinical Laboratory Correlation.
This domain comprises approximately 40% of the exam. Seven categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to:

  • Infectious diseases. Diagnostic strategies based on disease processes, appropriate selection of tests, timing and analysis of appropriate specimen for disease staging based on immunologic analysis, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Autoimmune diseases. Immunologic causes or parameters of various systemic autoimmune diseases (including hemolytic and collagen-vascular diseases) and diseases of various organs; advantages and disadvantages of available diagnostic tests; interpretation of test results, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Immunodeficiency disorders. Tests for differential diagnosis of immunodeficiencies, primary and secondary; monitoring and prognostic tests; interpretation of results, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and other immunoproliferative disorders. Tests for differential diagnosis of immunoproliferative disorders, monitoring and prognostic tests, interpretation of results, differential diagnosis/algorithms
  • Allergic diseases. Allergen identification, evaluation of therapy
  • Transplantation. HLA system, HLA matching and detection of humoral sensitization, ABO-Rh compatibility, analysis of rejection or tolerance, stem cell enumeration, posttransplant complications and monitoring
  • Tumor markers. Prognosis, staging, monitoring effects of therapy
  • Mediators. Cytokines, such as interleukins, interferons, chemokines, adhesion molecules and growth factors involved in the immune response, and other soluble mediators

Domain IV: Laboratory Management.
This domain comprises approximately 10% of the exam. Six categories are included under this domain. Suggested topics to study include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assay validation, including cost/benefit analysis
  • Quality assurance and quality control
  • Regulatory and legal issues. Federal laws and agencies (e.g., Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments [CLIA], Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], Food and Drug Administration [FDA]; other agencies (e.g., College of American Pathologists [CAP], Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations [JCAHO], American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics [ASHI], Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute [formerly NCCLS])
  • Proficiency testing
  • Laboratory safety. Use of personal protective equipment., hazadarous material handling, disaster preparedness, MSDS sheets
  • Personnel management, including credentialing, training, and competency assessment.


Download preparation suggestions and the suggested resources list.


Download sample questions.



The ABMLI requires its certified individuals, Diplomates, to recertify every three years. Diplomates need to complete an application form and must accumulate 150 contact hours of continuing education over three years. The recertification fee is $300 for ASM contributing and premium members and $350 for ASM supporting and non-members. The deadline is January 31. 

For applications not postmarked by January 31, a late fee of $300 for ASM contributing and premium members and $350 for ASM supporting and non-members will be applied.    



How do I verify ABMLI Diplomates?

If you are interested in verifying the certification of an ABMLI Diplomate, email your request to with an authorization of release form signed by the Diplomate.

I used my email address as my login and now my email address has changed. How can I change my login to my new email address?

You need to log in to your account and update the email address field with your current email address. Once you have done this, you will need to submit a request to to change your login to match your new email address.

I am unsure of which exam or Board I should apply to. Can you guide me?

We suggest you review the eligibility requirements and the exam information (including content and topics tested) for each Board to see which certification is appropriate for your education and experience.

What if my application is not approved?

If your application is not approved, you will be informed of the reason and you will have 30 days to appeal the decision by having additional supporting materials (in the form of a transcript, educational evaluation, and/or an online reference form) submitted on your behalf. If your application is not approved on appeal, it will be withdrawn and you will need to submit a new application for your eligibility to be reevaluated. No new applications will be accepted after June 1, 2016.

I applied previously, but my application was withdrawn. Do I have to resubmit all of my application materials to reapply?

Application materials are kept on file for seven years. If you reapply within seven years of your application’s withdrawal, you will not need to resubmit your transcripts and/or educational evaluation but all other application materials need to be resubmitted. No new applications will be accepted after June 1, 2016.

I created a Webassessor profile and paid the application fee through the ASMscience. Is there an actual application that I need to fill out to document my education and work experience?

No. Your educational background will be evaluated based on the transcripts/educational evaluation you submit and your work experience will be evaluated based on the online reference forms submitted on your behalf by your current or former immediate supervisor(s).

Do I need to have my undergraduate or master’s degree transcripts sent to the ABMLI or evaluated?

No. You only need to have your doctoral degree transcript submitted to the ABMLI if educated in the U.S. or Canada or obtain a U.S. degree equivalency statement for your doctoral degree if educated outside the U.S. or Canada.

Does experience need to be gained within the United States in order to be considered for eligibility?

No, it does not matter where the experience is gained, as long as it meets the Board’s requirements delineated on the ABMLI Eligibility page.

I am trying to register to take the exam but the dates on the calendar are grayed out and I do not have the option to select an exam time.

If all of the dates in a given month are grayed out, it means that testing center is not available. Check the availability of other testing centers in the area and, if none of them are available in the exam administration window, try expanding your testing center search to include testing centers that are further away. Additionally, you can submit a request to open the testing center in the exam administration window by sending an email to (please include your desired testing center’s name and location and your first, second, and third choices for an exam date in your request). While a request to open a testing center is being processed, examinees are encouraged to schedule their exams at one of the other testing centers to ensure they are able to sit for the exam in the current year.

What if my first choice of a testing center is not available?

You can submit a request to take the exam at your first choice of a testing center and we will do our best to accommodate your request. In case your request cannot be accommodated, however, you are advised to schedule your exam at an alternate testing center to ensure you are able to sit for the exam in the current year.

What if there aren’t any testing centers in my area?

New testing centers are added throughout the year and the list of testing centers posted on our website is updated each month. If there is not a testing center close to you when it is time to register to take the exam, you will need to travel to the nearest testing center to take the exam. Our exams can only be administered at Kryterion testing centers.

Can I reschedule my exam?

Yes. As long as it is 72 hours before your scheduled exam time, you can reschedule your exam by logging into your Webassessor account, clicking on the Details link next to your scheduled exam and clicking on the "Reschedule" button. To reschedule an exam within 72 hours prior to your scheduled exam time, you must contact the ABMLI office (at or 202-942-9257). No refunds will be issued for exams rescheduled within 72 hours of the scheduled exam sitting, and rescheduling an exam within this time frame will result in your having to pay another exam registration fee.

What if I need to cancel my exam registration once it has been scheduled?

To cancel your exam, you must send an email notification of your intent to cancel to In order to be issued a $350 refund for a cancellation, your request must be received by the ABMLI at least five business days prior to your scheduled exam. No refunds will be issued for cancellations within this time frame.

Besides my authorization code and two forms of identification, what else can I bring to the testing center?

You will not be allowed to bring anything into the exam room with you except for your identification. Any other personal items including, but not limited to, bags, purses, wallets, coats, jackets, hats, briefcases, books, mobile devices such as beepers, cellphones and smartphones, calculators, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and watches must be stored outside of the exam room. The testing centers have locked cabinets available to store personal items, should you decide to bring any of these items with you. Please be advised that the ABMLI, Kryterion, Inc., and the testing center are not responsible for lost or stolen personal items that you bring with you to the testing center. Additionally, tobacco products, food, drinks, and chewing gum are not allowed in the exam room.

Once you have entered the testing center, you will need to participate in their pre-exam inspection, including:

  • Pocket Turn-Outs: You will be asked to turn-out your pockets (on jackets, jeans, slacks, etc.) to verify that your pockets are empty or do not contain any prohibited items.
    Please note: Proctors have been given strict instructions not to make physical contact with you. Ideally, you should empty your pockets prior to entering the Testing Center.
  • Eyewear Inspections: Due to technological advances, such as "Google Glass", external eyewear will be inspected by the proctor to ensure it is not technology-enabled.

You are not allowed to leave the testing facility during breaks.

What if there is a power outage or other technical difficulties at my testing center?

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance preventing the exam or interrupting the exam (for example, a power outage or loss of internet connectivity), the testing center and Kryterion will work diligently to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. If necessary, your exam can be rescheduled for another date in the exam administration window or at another testing center; you will have the time remaining (out of a total of six and a half hours) to complete the exam. Please note, however, that if this happens toward the end of an exam administration window, it may not be possible to reschedule your exam in the current exam window. If this happens, your exam will need to be rescheduled for the next year’s exam window and a new exam will be administered to you at that time. As such, you are advised to schedule your exam as early as possible in the exam administration window.

Kryterion, Inc. (the company that runs Webassessor) has security and back-up measures in place to ensure that examinees' answers are recorded accurately and that examinees are given the full time allowed to complete the exam. Answers are transmitted and recorded individually by Kryterion each time you hit the Next button on your exam. As such, if something happens in the middle of the exam to prevent your completion of the exam on that day, your answers will not be lost. Additionally, Kryterion will keep track of how much time is remaining in your exam session. When your exam is re-launched, the last question you were answering when your exam was interrupted will appear, as will the exam timer showing the time remaining in your session.


Contact Us

The ABMLI is prepared to assist you in applying for Board certification. Questions or comments about the ABMLI are welcome and may be directed to the ABMLI at the following address:

Nicole Jackson
American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology
American Society for Microbiology
1752 N Street, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20036-2904
Telephone: (202) 942-9257
Fax: (202) 942-9353


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