In 1930 Vladimir Nikolaevich graduated from the Medical Faculty of the Perm State University. Then he worked at the Sverdlovsk Medical Institute and the Orenburg Veterinary Institute. Carried away by Pavlov’s direction in science, the young scientist in 1937 went to work at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in the Department of General Physiology. He was interested in the problems of mechano- and chemoreception and the evolution of receptor function. Chernigovsky studied reflex reactions resulting from signaling of internal organs. In the late 1930s Vladimir Nikolaevich discovered a huge number of highly sensitive chemoreceptors in the tissues of the abdominal organs.
Chernigovsky wrote his doctoral dissertation in record time and defended it 9 days before the start of the World War II. Materials of his doctoral dissertation formed the basis of a new direction in physiology — interoception. Later the scientist proved that the signals arising from stimulation of interoceptors reflexively cause changes in the activity of not only the organ but are also accompanied by reflex responses of other body systems.
The discovery of chemoreceptors in internal organs has been recognized by the scientific community. Leon Abgarovich Orbeli called it the only achievement of the national physiology of the post-revolutionary period. On the one hand this work of Chernigovsky confirmed Pavlov’s foresight: all organs and tissues should be permeated with the endings of centripetal nerve fibers, each adapted to its own stimulus of a mechanical or chemical nature. On the other hand, it was aimed at opening the neural connections between various systems of the body. Later this direction was called integrative physiology.
During the War, Vladimir Nikolaevich served at the submarine base in Batumi. After the war he worked simultaneously at the Military Medical Academy and at the Institute of Experimental Medicine under K.M. Bykov, where he created the first laboratory for the study of the physiology of interoceptors. In 1952, Chernigovsky became director of the Institute of Normal and Pathological Physiology of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. He held this position until his transfer in 1959 to the post of director of the Institute of Physiology named after I.P. Pavlov of the USSR Academy of Sciences, where he worked for 17 years.
Vladimir Nikolaevich stood at the origins of state planning and coordination of scientific research. For more than 40 years he has combined scientific research and great organizational activity. In 1950, the scientist was elected an academician of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences, in 1953 — a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and in 1960 — an academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
In 1961, under the leadership of Chernigov, a single Scientific Council on the complex problem "Physiology" was organized. In 1963, the Department of Physiology of the USSR Academy of Sciences was created, the first academician-secretary of which was Vladimir Nikolaevich. The department was responsible "for the development of the relevant field of science in the country as well as for the state of science research in the institutions of the USSR Academy of Sciences."
At the initiative of Vladimir Nikolaevich in 1961 at the Institute of Physiology named after I.P. Pavlov, a sector of space biology and physiology is being created. The task of the sector was to develop theoretical problems related to human space flights.
Thanks to Chernigov in 1963−1975, engineers and technicians began to participate more in physiological work, new directions were formed at the junction of various disciplines.