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Canterbury Child Development Research Group

09 February 2024

The Canterbury Child Development Research Group (CCDRG) is a multidisciplinary research team based at UC. The group investigates critical child development issues concerned with early developmental risks, brain development, parenting, and family functioning. Learn more.


Image: The Canterbury Child Development Research Group (CCDRG) 2022.

The Canterbury Child Development Research Group was established in 2003. This was achieved with the generous support of the University of Canterbury Foundation who worked with us in creating the child developmental research facility on Creyke Road known as the Canterbury Child Development Research House.

Our interdisciplinary research seeks to better understand how early life experiences affect an individual’s brain and behavioural development over the life course. We study different groups of children who have experienced early adversity, including children born preterm (or before <37 weeks gestational age), children exposed prenatally to drugs, children exposed to poverty and psychosocial stress, as well as typically developing children.

Many of our studies employ prospective longitudinal designs to understand differences in children’s developmental trajectories, and to identify risk and resilience processes that shape child development. We use diverse methods including interviews with parents and children, behavioural observation, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and psychobiological approaches. Through our collaborative research, we aim to generate new information that will positively impact the lives of children and their whānau in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our research projects include: 

Team Leader

Lianne Woodward, PhD, Professor of Child Developmental Psychology, School of Health Sciences

Lianne Woodward is a Professor of Child Developmental Psychology in the Faculty of Health. Her research mission is to advance scientific understanding and awareness of the mechanisms that shape child development, and in turn, help improve intervention and prevention efforts aimed at optimizing children’s life course opportunities. Throughout her career, she has maintained significant mentoring and leadership responsibilities. Since founding the Canterbury Child Development Research Group in 2003, she has spent time in the US as Director of Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Co-Director of the Intellectual Disabilities and Development Research Centre at Washington University in St Louis. These varied positions have involved securing competitive research funding, developing cross-disciplinary partnerships, project management, establishing and maintaining national and international collaborations, community engagement and advancing the career development of staff, fellows and a large number of postgraduate students. Major awards include the HRC Liley Medal, the Condliffe Memorial Prize, the James Cook Fellowship in Social Sciences, and a team award from Partners Health in Massachusetts for her leadership of the design and establishment of the Brigham Centre for Child Development.


Current Team Members and UC Collaborators 

Dr Samantha Lee, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow. Currently on maternity leave.

Dr Megan Gath, PhD

Associate Professor Cathy Andrew, PhD

Dr Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll, PhD

Professor Chris Perry

Research Co-ordinator - Recruitment for this position is in progress


PhD Students 

Melissa Hanses, MSN
Currently completing her PhD as part of the Pēpi (Parental Emotional Engagement with Preterm Infants) Study. Thesis title: Barriers, Vulnerabilities and Protective Factors in the Establishment of a Healthy Primary Caregiver-Infant Relationship Within the NICU.

Reisha Bone, MA
Currently completing her PhD as part of the GRIT Study. Thesis title: Aggression and Bullying during Adolescence: The Role of Individual, Peer and Familial Factors.

Elizabeth Murphy
Currently completing her PhD as part of the Canterbury Preterm Study. Thesis title: Educational outcomes for children born very preterm.

Larissa Hon, MSc, PgDipSci
Currently completing her PhD as part of the Pēpi Study. Thesis title: Early behavioural and autonomic regulation of Infants Born Very Preterm.  


Masters Students

Hannah McLeod

Kimberley Kamana

Elizabeth Winters

Additional Trainees

Dr Georgina Moody


Regional Collaborators

Professor John Horwood

Associate Professor Nicola Austin, MBChB Neonatal Services, Canterbury District Health Board.

Dr Sarah Harris, MbChB

Professor Martin Kennedy - Genetics lead on our Gauging Risk and Resilience in Teenager (GRIT) Study.

Associate Professor Tracy Melzer, PhD, Brain Research Institute and Department of Medicine University of Otago.

Dr Grace Walker CHDS


National and International Collaborators

Professor Trecia Wouldes, PhD

Dr Alice Kim, PhD

Associate Professor Mandy Brown Belfort, MD PhD

Dr Lise Johnson, MD Associate Director, Brazelton Institute at Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School

Dr J. Kevin Nugent, PhD - Founder & Director of the Brazelton Institute, Lecturer of Pediatrics (Psychology), Harvard Medical School


Pritchard VE, Bora S, Austin NC, Karelia J. Levin, Woodward LJ. (2014). Identifying Very Preterm Children at Educational Risk Using a School Readiness Framework. JAMA Pediatrics Volume 134, Number 3, e825-832 September 2014 doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-1536

Pritchard VE & Montgomery-Hönger A. (2014). A comparison of parent and staff perceptions of setting-specific and everyday stressors encountered by parents with very preterm infants experiencing neonatal intensive care. Early Human Development, 90(2014), 549–555.

Woodward, L.J., Bora, S., Clark, C.A.C., Montgomery-Honger, A., Pritchard, V.E., Spencer C & Austin, N. (2014). Very Preterm Birth: Maternal Experiences of the Neonatal Intensive Care Environment. Journal of Perinatology, 1-7. advance online publication, March 20, 2014; doi:10.1038/jp.2014.43

Bora, S., Pritchard, V. E., Chen, Z., Inder, T. E. and Woodward, L. J. (2014), Neonatal cerebral morphometry and later risk of persistent inattention/hyperactivity in children born very preterm. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55, 828-838. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12200.

Kidokoro, H., Anderson, P.J., Doyle, L., Woodward, L.J., Neil, J.J., & Inder, T.E. (2014 - in press). The nature of brain injury and altered brain growth in preterm infants: Predictors and prognosis. Pediatrics.

Clark, C.A.C & Woodward, L.J. (2014 – in press). Relation of perinatal risk and early parenting to executive control during the transition to school. Developmental Science.


Lean, R.E., Pritchard, V.E., & Woodward, L.J. (2013 – in press). Child protection and out- of- home placement experiences of preschool children born to mothers enrolled in methadone maintenance treatment during pregnancy. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(11), 1878-1885.

Woodward, L.J., Friesen, M.D., Raudino, A., Fergusson, D.M., & Horwood, L.J. (2014). Intergenerational changes in the context of early motherhood. Journal of Family Studies, 19(3), 306-314.

Raudino, A., Fergusson, D.M., Woodward, L.J., & Horwood L.J. (2013). The intergenerational transmission of conduct problems. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48, 456-476.

Friesen, M.D., Woodward, L.J., Horwood, L.J., & Fergusson, D.M. (2013). Quality of Parent-Child Relations in Adolescence and Later Adult Parenting Outcomes. Social Development, 22, 539-554.

Jones, K.M., Champion, P.R. &, Woodward, L.J. (2013). Social competence of preschool children born very preterm. Early Human Development, 89(10), 795-802. Online first July 17:

Davie-Gray, A., Spencer, C., Moor, S., & Woodward, L.J. (2013). Psychosocial characteristics and poly-drug use of pregnant women enrolled in methadone maintenance treatment. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 38, 46-52.

Wouldes, T.A. & Woodward, L.J. (2013 – in press). Maternal methadone dose during pregnancy and infant clinical outcome: Response to O’Grady et al. Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Darlow, B., Horwood, L.J., & Woodward, L.J. (2013). Psychosocial outcomes of young adults born very low birth weight. Pediatrics, 132 (6), e1521-e1528.


Raudino, A., Woodward, L.J., Fergusson, D.M., & Horwood, L.J., (2012). Childhood conduct problems are associated with increased partnership and parenting difficulties in adulthood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40(2), 251-263.

Walhovd, K.B., Inge, Watts, R., & Woodward, L.J. (2012). Neural tract development of infants born to methadone-maintained mothers. Pediatric Neurology, 47(1), 1-6.

Woodward, L.J., Clark, C.A.C., Bora, S. & Inder, T.E. (2012). Neonatal white matter abnormalities an important predictor of neurocognitive outcome for very preterm children. PLoS ONE, 7(12):e51879. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051879. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Daly, F.M., Hughes, R.N., & Woodward, L.J. (2012). Subsequent anxiety-related behavior in rats exposed to low-dose methadone during gestation, lactation or both periods consecutively. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, 102(2), 381-389.


Bora, S., Pritchard, V. E., Moor, S., Austin, N. C. & Woodward, L. J. (2011). Emotional and behavioural adjustment of children born very preterm at early school age. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 47, 863-869. no. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02105.x

Pritchard, V.E., & Woodward, L.J. (2011). Preschool executive control on the Shape School task: measurement considerations and utility. Psychological Assessment, 23(1), 31-43.

Woodward, L.J., Clark, C.A.C., Pritchard, V.E., Anderson, P.J., & Inder, T.E. (2011). Neonatal white matter abnormalities predict global executive function impairment in children born very preterm. Developmental Neuropsychology, 36(1), 22-41.

Woodward, L.J., & Pritchard, V.E. (2011). Understanding the development of at the risk premature child. In J. Low & P. Jose (Eds.), Lifespan Development: The New Zealand Context. (2nd Edition) (pp. 32-46),Wellington: Pearson Education


Clark, C.A.C., Pritchard, V.E., & Woodward, L.J. (2010). Preschool executive functioning abilities predicts early mathematics achievement. Developmental Psychology, 46(5), 1176-1191.

Clark, C.A.C., & Woodward, L.J. (2010). Neonatal cerebral abnormalities and later verbal and visuospatial working memory abilities of children born very preterm. Developmental Neuropsychology, 35(6), 622-642.

Foster-Cohen, S.H., Friesen, M.D., Champion, P.R., & Woodward, L.J. (2010). High prevalence/low severity language delay in preschool children born very preterm. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 31(8), 658-667.

Treyvaud, K., Anderson, V.A., Lee, K.J., Woodward, L.J., Newnham, C., Inder, T.E., Doyle, L.W., & Anderson, P.J. (2010). Parental mental health and early socio-emotional development of children born very preterm. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 35(7), 768-777.

Wouldes, T.A., & Woodward, L.J. (2010). Maternal methadone dose during pregnancy and infant clinical outcome. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 32(3), 406-413.

Friesen, M.D., Woodward, L.J., Horwood, L.J., & Fergusson, D.M. (2010). Childhood exposure to sexual abuse and partnership outcomes at age 30. Psychological Medicine, 40(4), 679-688.


Hornby, G., & Woodward, L.J. (2009). Educational needs of school-aged children born very and extremely preterm: A review. Educational Psychology Review, 21(3), 247-266.

Quick, Z.L., Robb, M.P., & Woodward, L.J. (2009). Acoustic cry characteristics of infants exposed to methadone during pregnancy. Acta Paediatrica, 98(1), 74-79.

Pritchard, V.E., Clark, C.A.C., Liberty, K., Champion, P.R., Wilson, K., & Woodward, L.J. (2009). Early school-based learning difficulties in children born very preterm. Early Human Development, 85(4), 215-224.

Treyvaud, K., Anderson, V.A., Howard, K., Bear, M., Hunt, R.W., Doyle, L.W., Inder, T.E., Woodward, L.J., & Anderson, P.J. (2009). Parenting behaviour is associated with the early neurobehavioral development of very preterm children. Pediatrics, 123(2), 555-561.

Woodward, L.J., Moor, S., Hood, K.M, Champion, P.R., Foster-Cohen, S., Inder, T.E., & Austin, N.C. (2009). Very preterm children show impairments across multiple neurodevelopmental domains by age 4 years. Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 94(5), F339-344.


Clark, C.A.C, Woodward, L.J., Horwood, L.J., & Moor, S. (2008). Development of emotional and behavioral regulation in children born extremely and very preterm: Biological and social influences. Child Development, 79(5), 1444-1462.

Edgin, J.O., Inder, T.E., Hood, K.M., Clark, C.A.C., & Woodward, L.J. (2008). Executive functioning in preschool children born very preterm: Relationship with early white matter pathology. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 14(1), 90-101.

Friesen, M.D., Woodward, L.J., Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J. & Chesney, A. (2008). Living standards and material conditions of young New Zealand families. New Zealand Social Policy Journal, 33, 48-69.


Foster-Cohen, S., Edgin, J.O., Champion, P.R., & Woodward, L.J. (2007). Early delayed language development in very preterm infants: evidence from the MacArthur-Bates CDI. Journal of Child Language, 34(3), 655-675.

Woodward, L.J., Fergusson, D.M., Chesney, A., & Horwood, L.J. (2007). Punitive parenting practices of contemporary young parents. New Zealand Medical Journal, 120(1267), 1-9.


Anderson, N.G., Laurent, I., Woodward, L.J., & Inder, T.E. (2006). Detection of impaired growth of the corpus callosum in premature infants. Pediatrics, 118(3), 951-60.

Gray, D., Woodward, L.J., Spencer, C., Inder, T.E., & Austin, N.C. (2006). Health service utilisation of a regional cohort of very preterm infants over the first two years of life. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 42(6), 377-383.

Keown, L.J., & Woodward, L.J. (2006). Preschool boys with pervasive hyperactivity: Early peer functioning and mother-child relationship influences. Social Development, 15(1), 23-45.

Shah, D.K., Guinane, C., August, P., Austin , N.C. , Woodward, L.J., Thompson, D.K., Warfield, S.K., Clemett, R., & Inder, T.E. (2006). Reduced occipital regional volumes at term predict impaired visual function in early childhood in very low birth weight infants. Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, 47(8), 3366-73.

Woodward, L.J., Anderson, P.J, Austin, N.C., Howard, K., & Inder, T.E. (2006). Neonatal MRI to predict neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants. New England Journal of Medicine, 355(7), 685-694.

Woodward, L.J., Edgin, J.O., & Champion, P.R. (2006). The preterm infant: An example of developmental risk. In J. Low and P. Jose (Eds.), Lifespan Development: The New Zealand Context. Wellington: Pearson Education.

Woodward, L.J., Fergusson, D.M., & Horwood, L.J. (2006). Gender differences in the transition to early parenthood. Development and Psychopathology, 18(1), 275-294.


Anderson, N.G., Laurent, I., Cook, N., Woodward, L.J., & Inder, T.E. (2005). Growth rate of corpus collosum in very premature infants. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 26(10), 2685-90.

Belsky, J., Jaffee, S.R., Sligo, J., Woodward, L.J., & Silva, P.A. (2005). Intergenerational transmission of warm-sensitive-stimulating parenting: a prospective study of mothers and fathers of 3-year-olds. Child Development, 76(2), 384-96.

Woodward, L.J., Edgin, J,O., Thompson, D., & Inder, T.E. (2005). Object working memory deficits predicted by early brain injury and development in the preterm infant. Brain, 128, 2578-2587.

Woodward, L.J., & Liberty, K.A. (2005). Breastfeeding and child psychosocial development. In R.E. Tremblay, R.G. Barr, & R.D.Peters (Eds.),Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development (pp.1-6). Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.

Inder, T.E., Warfield, S.K., Hong Wang., Huppi, P.S., & Volpe, J.J. (2005). Abnormal Cerebral Structure Is Present at Term in Premature Infants. Pediatrics, 115 (2) 286-294.

Contact us for more information

Postal address

Canterbury Child Development Research Group
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand


Phone: +64 3 369 4342 (direct)
Internal Extension: 94342 (Marie Goulden)

Principal Investigator

Professor Lianne Woodward

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