Breakthrough studies led in 2010 to new international guidelines on newborn resuscitation. This week, one of the leading researchers behind the studies, Dr. Ola Didrik Saugstad, was honoured at Athens. 

Norwegian paediatrician and professor at Oslo University Hospital Dr. Ola Didrik Saugstad was on 1 April awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Health Sciences.

The honour was awarded in recognition of Dr. Saugstad’s extensive and internationally recognised research and contributions in the field of neonatal care. In 2010 he was decorated as a Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. He is also the most widely cited Norwegian pediatrician.

In his inauguration speech “Between Scylla and Charybdis” Saugstad explained why air is preferable to oxygen in the resuscitation of term and premature babies, because pure oxygen can have a toxic impact on newborns. He also explained the dilemma inherent in successful resuscitation of very premature babies; using an optimal resolution of oxygen to reduce mortality at the same time increases the risk of serious medical conditions of the surviving babies – hence the title “Between Scylla and Charybdis,” or between two evils.

Researchers estimate that the discovery can save up to 500 000 newborn lives every year.

Saugstad took the opportunity to express his respect and gratitude to the Hellenes of antiquity for important lessons inter alia in freedom, democracy and medicine.

The nomination took place at the venerable University’s Grand Hall in the presence of the Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Professor Athanasios Meletios Dimopoulos and the Dean of School of Health Sciences, Professor Efstratios Patsouris. The Director of the Children’s Clinic of Athens University, Professor Georgios Chrousos presented Saugstad’s life and work.