Sasha, the Ukrainian researcher doing a stay in Sant Pau

The Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute (IIB Sant Pau) receives a researcher from Ukraine through the #ScienceForUkraine platform. This initiative arises from an international movement promoted by volunteer scientists, academics and students to support the Ukrainian academic community by offering them opportunities for scientific stays or jobs in the international arena.

Dr. Oleksandra Yukhymchuk arrived in Barcelona a few weeks ago to collaborate with the Research Institute’s Pituitary Diseases Research Group led by Dr. Susan Webb and with the hospital’s Endocrinology Service.

In addition to participating in the group’s research projects, in her day-to-day life Dr. Yukhymchuk also carries out her activity in outpatient clinics, where she takes part in medical consultation of patients with different diseases of the pituitary gland, thyroid, obesity, pregnancy and diabetes. as well as other endocrine diseases. She is also collaborating in the management of the pituitary disease databases in Catalonia.

When the war broke out, in February of this year, Sasha -which is what her colleagues at Sant Pau affectionately call her- was  a  resident medical practitioner in Endocrinology at the V.P. Komisarenko Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Kyiv.

Due to the crisis and security problems in her country, activities at her hospital were suspended and Sasha was left “unable to study or work”, as she herself explains. She and her family moved to a town located in the westernmost region of the country, bordering Poland,  to escape the bombs that fell on her hometown, Kyiv. “I began to search for possibilities to go to study somewhere so that I could take advantage and gain a bit of experience that could later be useful in my hometown, in my clinic.”

It was then that a friend of hers told her about the #ScienceForUkraine initiative. There she found offers in different countries such as Poland, the United States or Lithuania. And also the IIB Sant Pau, which was the only site from which she received a response. The Pituitary Diseases Research Group of the Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute (IIB Sant Pau) led by Dr. Susan Webb offered accommodation to a person who would like to spend 3 months in Barcelona.

“Sant Pau’s offer seemed very interesting to me, especially because there was the possibility of collaborating in the area of Endocrinology, which is my field of interest. I want to work with orphan diseases and I felt very lucky to be able to come here and be able to work with the databases to do research”.

Sasha explains that one of the things that motivates her most about her stay at Sant Pau is that she can work with all diseases of the pituitary gland, since in Ukraine she does not have access to such specific lines of research in this area.

“For me it was a very good opportunity to come here to Sant Pau. I am very grateful for the opportunity to share this experience. The people are very friendly and have welcomed me very well”.

Dr. Webb explains that this experience has been very enriching for the entire research group that she leads at the IIB Sant Pau.

“In our group, we did not have the possibility of offering a salary or a scholarship, so I thought I could offer the possibility to live in my home and not have to pay for accommodation or maintenance. We could share our clinical and research experience and facilities, but we had no salary to offer”.

Sasha details that she is learning a lot, since in addition to having the opportunity to see patients, she is able to learn how the IIB Sant Pau works. “For example, we do not have a clinical trial center in Kyiv. We participate in clinical trials, but we do not have an institute where it is promoted or an infrastructure dedicated to it like the CIM (Centre for Drug Research) that you have here. It’s really very interesting.”

Sasha plans to return to Ukraine when her stay at IIB Sant Pau ends and return to work at the hospital in Kyiv. She is sure that her visit to Barcelona “will be of great help in the future to work there”. Although she is skeptical about the future of research in her country, she is hopeful that in a couple of years research can be reactivated and the bridges that have been opened with Sant Pau can bear fruit in possible collaborations.

The IIB Sant Pau currently has two other collaboration offers open on the #ScienceForUkraine platform. One in the Pharmacogenomics and Genetics of Stroke research group, which offers a 3-month stay to a researcher or doctoral student, and another in the Cerebrovascular Diseases Research group, which offers funding for 3 months (€1,000/month) for an investigator.

Last update: 08 de August de 2022

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