Highlights: Featured Researcher: A histopathologist’s true calling

Dr. Sergii Vernygorodskyi’s persistent efforts in cancer research


cience is truly wonderful. The more I know, the more it takes me deeper,” says pathologist Dr. Sergii Vernygorodskyi of Ukraine. “That is the most interesting part of it – and there is no limit to search further,” he adds.

Dr. Vernygorodskyi, whose research work on the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) and stomach cancer is featured in the current issue of Advances in Modern Oncology Research (AMOR) journal, elaborates in an exclusive interview with AMOR Media: “During the last 10 years, I have been studying morphological changes of the gastrointestinal tract mucosa in chronic diseases (includingHelicobacter pylori-associated) and their role in the development of neoplastic processes.”

The result of his study was a defence to his Doctoral thesis entitled “Metaplasia of the gastric mucosa in precancerous conditions: Morphogenesis, diagnostics and prognosis of development”.

Before that, the Ukrainian researcher had been investigating morphological changes in the lungs under the influence of cordarone and beta-adrenoblockers at durable application, mutually with Ukraine’s Scientific and Research Center of Vinnitsa National Pirogov Memorial Medical University, where he worked on his candidate thesis titled ‘Morphogenesis of Fibrosing Alveolitis in Prolonged Use of Beta-adrenoblockers’.

His published paper in AMOR is yet another testament to his passionate work in the realm of pathology, which seeks to “conduct the structural analysis of metaplastic and dysplastic changes of the stomach mucosa in patients with chronic gastritis, ulcer disease,” explains Dr. Vernygorodskyi.

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Dr. Vernygorodskyi graduated from Vinnitsa State Medical University in 1991 with a medical diploma and continued his studies in advanced pathology. Having completed his PhD in the year 2000, he received certification as ‘Pathologist of the Highest Qualification’ three years later. Presently, he is pursuing a Diploma of Doctor in Medical Science in the field of Pathological Anatomy at Kharkiv National Medical University.

Dr. Vernygorodskyi is currently a Consultant Histopathologist at the Regional Pathoanatomy Bureau and Forensic Office at the Department of Pathological Anatomy of Vinnitsa National Pirogov Memorial Medical University. He is also carrying out responsibilities as a Pathology professor at the Department of Pathology, at the same university.

Speaking about his work as a professor, he shares, “At the department of pathological anatomy I deliver lectures and I conduct practical training demonstrating histological specimens and gross specimen’s autopsy.” He adds, “Every month, I carry out researches of bioptic and operational material (3,000 per year) on the basis of the regional pathoanatomical office and the histological laboratory of the Medical Centre of Air Forces of Ukraine and the regional forensic office.”

When discussing the difficulties he faces in his field of work, Dr. Vernygorodskyi reflects, “My biggest challenge has probably always been in finding a good balance between lab time and educational. However, it is very difficult to find new reagents for research in a new field, because of the financial and political problems in my country. Despite that fact, we continue our investigations in GIT oncology.”

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Intraepithelial localization of Helicobacter pylori within goblet cells (Image source: Sergii Vernygorodskyi et al.)

One of the investigations is a project that he is ardently working on: “Currently, my aim is to reveal the morphogenesis of metaplasia and dysplasia in pre-tumour and neoplastic processes of the stomach mucosa for the grounding of the principles of its diagnostics, perspectives of development and treatment tactic,” he shares with AMOR Media.

According to the pathologist, his efforts are also focused on developing a screening system with an account of different types of the stomach mucosa metaplasia and dysplasia for the early diagnostics of stomach cancer, with maximal effectiveness using the diagnostics base.

“My goal is to conduct the structural analysis of metaplastic and dysplastic changes of the stomach mucosa in patients with chronic gastritis, ulcer disease,” he explains. “I am also investigating neoplastic pathology and assessing the peculiarities of the apoptosis valuations and proliferative activity of the stomach epitheliocytes and their role in the development of metaplasia and dysplasia,” he adds.

“I believe such research would allow us to introduce the results obtained into the work of the pathological, gastroenterological and therapeutical departments for the sake of improving the diagnostics and ways of managing patients with the stomach mucosa dysplasis and metaplasia for prevention of stomach cancer,” acknowledges Dr. Vernygorodskyi.

When asked for his opinion about the future of oncology research, Dr. Vernygorodskyi voices his hopes of seeing an integrated working relationship between medical, surgical and radiation oncologists together with anatomical and clinical pathologists. This, according to him, is necessary to facilitate and ensure the highest standard of pathology support and reporting for the advancement of clinical oncology and cancer research.

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“Despite the fact that the intestinal epithelium islets in the stomach mucosa were described in 1883 by Kupffer, who put forward the hypothesis about heterotopical origin of the intestinal epithelium in the stomach, the discussion on the mechanisms of its emerging and role in the appearing of the stomach neoplastic processes are going on until now,” he elaborates.

“My advice to future researchers in this field is to involve in the attempt to clarify the significance of DNA methylation alterations during precancerous processes and gastric carcinogenesis,” says the Pathology professor. He notes, “This will allow us to understand the genetic basis of precancerous lesions and their relationships with H. Pylori.”

“The future of cancer research depends on the bright minds of young researchers. To tackle the really big challenges that cancer poses, we’re forging even stronger bonds with international funding partners to support multinational research projects. It brings scientists across the world together and approaches these large problems by combining a wide breadth of skills, knowledge and technology,” concludes Dr. Vernygorodskyi.