Cedars-Sinai pediatrician to receive award for his contributions to international child health

October 06, 1999

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 5, 1999) -- Augusto Sola, M.D., director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Division of Neonatology, will be honored next week by the American Academy of Pediatrics for his long-standing efforts to improve the lives of newborns and infants throughout the world, particularly in under-served areas of Central and South America.

The E.H. Christopherson Lectureship recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to international child health, according to the Academy. The award will be presented to Dr. Sola on Oct. 12 during the Academy's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Because he believes that the survival and well-being of infants depends upon the quality of education received by their health-care providers, Dr. Sola has long been committed to developing training programs for neonatal physicians and nurses. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he has been particularly devoted to and influential in improving neonatal and perinatal care in South and Central America.

For example, he pioneered in organizing the first course in neonatal intensive care in South America for both nurses and physicians. He developed a fellowship in neonatal/perinatal medicine in Argentina, and he has been personally involved in providing neonatal training for more than 100 nurses and 200 physicians in Central and South America. About 50 of the doctors are now directors of programs related to infant health.

Now considered by many to be the "Father of Neonatology" in Central and South America, Dr. Sola received his medical degree from Buenos Aires National University School of Medicine in Argentina in 1973. He then studied pharmacology and completed a pediatric internship in Buenos Aires before entering the pediatric residency program at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass.

Dr. Sola served as chief resident in pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he later completed a neonatal fellowship. He acquired additional training in neonatology, outcomes research and clinical epidemiology, and clinical research at the University of California San Francisco.

He has held a number of teaching and professional positions at the University of Buenos Aires, Esquiu College in Buenos Aires, the University of Massachusetts, Tulane University in New Orleans, La., and the University of California San Francisco. He currently serves as Director of the Division of Neonatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and professor of pediatrics at the University of California Los Angeles. He also is co-director of Cedars-Sinai's Infant Progress Clinic and director of the medical center's neonatal fellowship program.

Dr. Sola holds the Ruth and Harry Roman Endowed Chair in Neonatology, which supports clinical and basic research being conducted at Cedars-Sinai.

After completing his post-doctoral fellowship in neonatology at the Cardiovascular Research Institute and Department of Pediatrics at UCSF in 1980, Dr. Sola served as assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine. In 1982, he returned to Buenos Aires to direct Neonatology at the Hospital of the University of Buenos Aires.

He immediately instituted changes that markedly improved neonatal outcomes. For example, the survival rate for infants suffering from hyaline membrane disease, a respiratory distress syndrome, increased from 33 percent to 83 percent in six years. Survival rates following cardiac surgery also increased dramatically, even surpassing those of more developed countries, and the death rate from meconium aspiration decreased drastically. Meconium, or fetal stool that is generally passed in the several days after birth, can be inhaled into the bronchial tubes of a baby who is gasping in distress at or near the time of birth, blocking airflow and oxygenation of the blood.

Because of his efforts to improve infant mortality, as well as his scientific and leadership abilities, Dr. Sola was recognized in 1988 as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Professionals of Argentina. He has received numerous other awards and honors, and has served on countless professional boards and committees in the United States and in South America. He has authored dozens of articles for professional journals, served as visiting professor in the United States, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Cuba, and lectured throughout North, Central and South America.

Dr. Sola continues to support the development and improvement of neonatal care in under-served areas of Central and South America. For instance, he obtains fellowships in the United States for young physicians who later return home to provide neonatal care and training. He seeks funds from philanthropic organizations to provide equipment and care for infants, along with education for health-care professionals, throughout the Americas. He published the first book on neonatal intensive care in the Spanish language, and is now completing another.

He has provided guidance to many local, regional and provincial governments, served as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization, and assisted in the development of the national health program for newborns established in Cuba in the mid-1980s.

At the 1999 American Academy of Pediatrics Meeting in Washington, D.C., Dr. Sola will receive the 1999 E.H. Christopherson Award on International Child Health, due to his impact in decreasing infant and newborn mortality through different countries and regions of Latin America. As the recipient of the E.H. Christopherson Award, Dr. Sola has been invited to address the Academy during the ceremony. The American Academy of Pediatrics convention will be held Oct. 9 through 13.
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Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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