The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) recently announced its Emerging Research Fellows (ERF) for 2024 as Dr. Megan Gath (University of Canterbury) and Dr. Angharad Hurley (University of Otago, Christchurch).


 The ERF supports the best and brightest early career health researchers in the Canterbury region by providing up to $220,000 per fellow towards their proposed research.  Dr. Megan Gath is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Canterbury and part of the prestigious Child Well-Being Research Institute. The CMRF Emerging Researcher Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Gath for her project on understanding the impact of children’s screen exposure on developmental outcomes. Children and youth now spend an unprecedented amount of time watching or interacting with screens, and it is critical to understand the longer-term impacts on health and well-being.

Dr. Gath’s research will examine the ways in which digital device use by children and youth impacts their development, including mental well-being, such as resilience and quality of life, and aspects of social and behavioural adjustment, such as aggression, victimisation, and the ability to form positive peer relationships. All of these developmental outcomes are essential for youth to flourish, in terms of their mental and physical well-being across the lifespan.

The findings from this research are expected to help parents, medical professionals, policymakers and others concerned with children’s health and development make informed choices based on an understanding of the impacts of screen media use by children and youth. Dr. Angharad Hurley is a Research Fellow at the University of Otago’s Department of Paediatrics. Dr. Hurley received the Emerging Researcher Fellowship to support their research into understanding whether socio-economic deprivation, geographic location and ethnicity are linked with emergency department admissions at Christchurch Hospital. 

Approximately 25,000 children are seen at Christchurch Hospital’s Emergency Department each year but little is known about whether specific groups have an increased need for emergency care, similar reasons for attending, and comparable outcomes.  From the research, Dr. Hurley expects to paint a clearer picture of who is attending the hospital emergency department and whether differences can be seen for certain groups of children. This will help inform the development of health interventions that can better support groups that may be overrepresented in the data and find ways to reduce visits to ED when other solutions may be better suited to their needs.The Emerging Researcher Fellowship is recommended by CMRF’s Fellowship Assessment Committee made up of senior healthcare researchers in the region. The award is recommended based on the candidate’s potential to advance the quality of health and wellbeing in the Canterbury region. This year saw a number of excellent applicants, but the committee were unanimous in their nomination of Drs. Gath and Hurley.  Canterbury Medical Research Foundation has been supporting the medical and health researchers for over 60 years funding over $32 million in grants. CMRF is here to support the next generation of health and wellbeing researchers in the Canterbury region seeking solutions to some of the world’s most devastating conditions, such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, bowel disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s to name a few.  CMRF is privately supported from generosity of bequests, trusts and corporate donors. Learn more about the work we do and support us at

Media enquiries should be directed to Dr. Gath ([email protected]), Dr. Hurley ([email protected]) or Geoff Cranko, CMRF Chair ([email protected]

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