Dr. Saroj Saigal obtained her medical degree and pediatric training in India. She did her neonatal fellowship at the Universities of Edinburgh, McGill, and McMaster, and joined the Pediatric faculty at McMaster University, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, as a neonatologist in the newly opened tertiary care centre. At the same time she started the Neonatal Follow-up Program for high-risk infants, one of few such programs in the country at the time. Dr. Saigal has been Professor of Pediatrics since 1984, and is currently Professor Emerita at McMaster and continues to run the follow-up clinic as well as her ongoing research and publications.
Dr. Saigal and her colleagues have followed one of the few population-based cohorts of extremely low birthweight infants longitudinally from infancy to adulthood, and she has published extensively on the same. The group of investigators has received joint funding from MRC Canada for the earlier studies, and the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for follow-up to adulthood (2001-2005). Dr. Saigal is currently a co-investigator of a further follow-up study on the mental health of the same cohort, now in their 30s, through a new Canadian-Finnish Consortium funded by CIHR (2010-2014), and working in collaboration with a group of investigators from Finland. In addition, Dr. Saigal has been involved as a collaborator in several perinatal clinical trials.
Dr. Saigal has served in several elected positions in the Canadian Pediatric Society Section of Neonatal Perinatal Medicine: Member of the Fetus and Newborn Committee, 1984-1990; Secretary Treasurer, 1990-1994; President-elect, 1996-98; and President 1998-2000. She has also been a consultant on several US advisory committees. In 2000, Dr. Saigal received a five-year Senior Investigator Career Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that allowed her to pursue her research interests on the outcomes of high-risk infants. In 2005, she received the Canadian Pediatric Society's prestigious Distinguished Neonatologist Award, the Society's highest award for neonatology. In 2009, Dr. Saigal was the recipient of the Landmark Award from the Section of Perinatal Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and in 2011 she was the Society for Pediatric Research (US) recipient of the Douglas K, Richardson Award for her lifetime achievement as a clinical investigator who has made substantive contributions to Perinatal and Pediatric Healthcare research.
Dr. Saigal is internationally recognized for her studies which focus on the quality of life and consequences of having been born extremely premature. In November 2014, Dr. Saigal published a book for a general audience, "Preemie Voices," a collection of letters that provide a description of life from the perspectives of adults who were born very prematurely. In addition, there is an accompanying 25-minute documentary on the lives of these preemies.