Professor Jane Harding led the development of a cheap and easy way to treat an ailment that can cause brain damage in babies.
Neonatal hypoglycaemia - or low blood sugar - is a common problem that affects up to 15 per cent of otherwise healthy babies and is a preventable cause of brain damage.
But a research group led by Professor Harding, who is deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of Auckland, found that massaging dextrose gel into the inside of the baby's cheek was an effective way to treat the problem.
It cost roughly $2 a baby and could help reduce admissions into neonatal intensive care for treatment with intravenous glucose.
A grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development helped fund the research into the connection between hypoglycaemia in newborns and brain damage. The research was published in the Lancet medical journal.
Between 2008 and 2010, 514 at-risk babies aged 35 weeks gestation or older from Waikato Women's Hospital were enrolled in the first 48 hours after birth.
Of those, 242 (47 per cent) became hypoglycaemic and were randomly assigned to 40 per cent dextrose gel or placebo gel over 48 hours.
Treatment with dextrose almost halved the likelihood of treatment failure, compared with the placebo.
Babies given dextrose gel were also less likely to be admitted to intensive care for hypoglycaemia.
Professor Harding, formerly of Rotorua, applied for medical school in 1972, obtaining her degree from the University of Auckland.
She then trained in fetal physiology on a Rhodes Scholarship, and completed her PhD at the University of Oxford, England. She specialised as a paediatrician before training as a Fogarty Fellow at the University of California at San Francisco.
Professor Harding was appointed to the faculty of the University of Auckland in 1989 and was appointed professor of neonatology in 1997.
Professor Jane Harding - For developing a treatment to help prevent brain damage in babies.