Saugstad is recognized for his work on oxygen radicals and ischemia-reperfusion injury in neonates.
By The Section on Perinatal Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics, taken from their home page:
2011 Landmark Award
During the last 30 years Dr. Ola Saugstads outstanding research has most essentially contributed to our current knowledge on the role of oxygen radicals in diseases of preterm and term infants as well as on ischemia-reperfusion injury in neonates. Utilizing various in vitro systems and animal models, Dr. Saugstad has provided impressive and fundamental data on basic physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology of the mechanisms responsible for reoxygenation injury. Thirty years ago, Dr. Saugstad established hypoxanthine as a new biochemical system for the diagnosis of perinatal hypoxia. Years later, he was the first to propose that hypoxiareoxygenation injury is caused by an excess of free toxic oxygen radicals generated during reoxygenation.
By now, there is increasing evidence that oxygen radicals play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of acute and chronic pulmonary and nonpulmonary diseases of preterm and term infants. Besides his continuous basic research, Dr. Saugstad has tested the hypothesis of ischemiareperfusion injury and on oxygen toxicity in several clinical studies, including prospectively designed controlled multicenter trials. The scientific background provided in his exceptional basic research work is most essential for a proper understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of oxygen radical diseases in preterm infants. Moreover, Dr. Saugstads clinical research is of greatest relevance since it offers the unique opportunity to define means by which acute and chronic disorders of preterm and term infants may be prevented or even effectively treated. The current concept of resuscitation with 100% oxygen has been seriously questioned by Dr. Saugstads data, and his fundamental work has finally been accepted by the medical community: Resuscitation of preterm and term infants will no longer be performed with 100% oxygen.
His studies, passion regarding this topic, and clear, candid message did have a direct impact over time on the neonatal resuscitation guidelines put out by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation and the AAP Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) recommendations. Just this past year, based on the evidence (to which he contributed greatly), the recommendation was changed to start resuscitation with room air for term babies, and to judiciously guide the use of oxygen for all babies by pulse oximetry in the delivery room. This landmark change has been incorporated into the new AAP NRP program that was released in May 2011 and is a huge culture change for American neonatal resuscitation providers and hospitals but one that is of great importance. The work regarding oxygen use in the delivery room is not done as there remains many questions regarding how oxygen should be used for premature infants and Dr. Saugstad remains at the forefront of organizing and encouraging such studies.
Dr. Saugstad is an outstanding scientist with a distinguished research career who has achieved outstanding international stature in his field by virtue of his original, independent, and focused creative contributions. He is internationally well known for his brilliant, didactically exceptional and humorous presentations, as well as for his kindness and his warm and modest character. He is definitely one of very few European scientists and clinicians who have received the highest level of recognition and appreciation by the international scientific community reflected by numerous invited lectures which he has presented at scientific meetings in all parts of the world. In addition, his leading role as basic scientist and clinical researcher is impressively documented by his active and dominant role in international scientific societies. In the view of many European and American neonatologists and scientists, Dr. Saugstads service to international neonatal medicine and to medical science is unique and outstanding.