Dr Kate Isabel Campbell discovered that blindness in premature babies was caused by an overdose of oxygen. This discovery resulted in the adjustment of the treatment of premature babies world wide.
Kate Campbell was a bright student who was awarded scholarships to attend both the Methodist Ladies College and the University of Melbourne, where she obtained her Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and Bachelor of Surgery (BS) in 1922 and Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1924. Dr Campbell became resident medical officer at the Melbourne Children's and later the Royal Women's Hospitals and then, in 1927, established a general medical practice. Ten years later she became a consultant peadiatrician.
From 1929 to 1965 Dr Campbell lectured in neonatal paediatrics at the University of Melbourne. Together with Vera Scantlebury Brown and A. Elizabeth Wilmot, she wrote the Department of Health's Guide to the Care of the Young Child.
Dr Campbell was appointed honorary paediatrician to the Victorian Baby Health Centre's association, a position she held for over 40 years. She was also honorary paediatrician at the Queen Victoria Hospital (Melbourne) from 1926 to 1965, consultant from 1965 and honorary paediatrician at the Royal Women's Hospital (Melbourne) from 1965.
A specialist in children's diseases, in 1951 she became the first person to prove the link between retrolental fibroplasia (a blindness in premature babies) and oxygen levels in humidicribs. She received worldwide recognition for her work. In 1954 she was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of her contribution to public health. In 1966 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD, Melbourne). 'She was appointed to the Order of the British Empire (Dames Commander) on 1 January 1971 for services to the welfare of Australian children. Together with Norman Gregg she was co-winner of the first Encyclopaedia Britannica award for medicine in 1964'. (http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0018b.htm)
Dr Campbell died in 1986.
Bright Sparcs, Australian Science Archives Project, University of Melbourne, website http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/biogs/P003367b.htm, accessed 19 Dec 2003
Australian Women, Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women, web site http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0018b.htm, accessed 19 Dec 2003