Jane Harding has been named the 2019 Supreme Woman of Influence, beating 371 other nominees.
Dr Harding, a distinguished professor of neonatology at the University of Auckland, is best known for her work with babies who develop low blood sugar. She was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002.
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"Her research findings changed medical practice globally, halving rates of New Zealand neonatal intensive care admission for babies with this condition," award organisers said.
Dr Harding told The AM Show winning the award was "awesome" and came as a complete surprise.
"[It's] very important, I think, to get through my head the idea of women and influence, you know we all think that we're very unimportant in these things and the idea that one might have influence, might be important for others, is something to get your head around."
She said her work with low blood glucose in babies was what she was most proud of.
The awards were jointly presented by Westpac and media company Stuff. Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean said in a statement Dr Harding's achievements show the groundbreaking work Kiwi women are doing across the spectrum.
"Her tireless research work and her lobbying for effective treatments for babies has touched the lives of thousands of families across many years.
"The awards judges noted that not only has she created an exceptional legacy, but she continues to make a big impact today."
Other category award winners include Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Abbie Reynolds and Anne-Marie Brady.