Academic Program






The theme for the 2019 International Tai Chi Chuan Symposium Academic Program was the impact of tai chi chuan on human health.
There were keynote addresses, session speakers and poster presentations based on original research linking tai chi chuan with health and wellness
and a round table discussion on tai chi chuan with the Masters and Academic Program faculty. 



Dr. Patricia HUSTON, Canada

Dr. Patricia Huston, MD, CCFP, MPH has a dual academic appointment at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine and the School of Epidemiology and Public Health.  She has worked as a family physician, a public health physician and a scientific editor.  She has attended meetings at the World Health Organization as an Expert Advisor, been on multiple national and international committees, and was the President of the international Council of Science Editors. She has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, on topics such as the care of the elderly, preventive cardiology, research and publication ethics, and the social determinants of health. Her most recent research interests are the health benefits of Tai Chi and the emerging science on fascia.


Keynote title:      What science knows and does not know about tai chi
In this presentation Dr. Huston will first give an historical overview of the scope of research that has been done on tai chi from the early rudimentary work to the more rigorous and sophisticated research done today. She will compare this to research on yoga and pilates and to the amount of research needed for regulatory approval of new treatment.  She will then expand on research that has been done on how tai chi benefits health and wellness in three specific areas: 1) Promotes physical health; 2) Promotes mental health; and 3) Arrest/reverse many disease conditions.  Finally, Dr. Huston will present some hypotheses about the underlying mechanisms by which tai chi chuan exerts its beneficial effects on the body.


          Click here to see Dr. Huston’s presentation


Dr. Fuzhong LI, U.S.A.

Dr. Fuzhong Li is Senior Scientist at the Oregon Research Institute (ORI). Dr. Li has been Principal Investigator (PI) on fourteen National Institutes of Health (NIH)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded research grants. His research areas include falls prevention, exercise training on balance, postural control, and mobility for older adults and people with movement disorder. He has published a series of papers on randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of Tai Ji Quan interventions on a range of psychosocial and biomedical outcomes, and falls in older adults and people with movement disorders. Examples of his publications include clinical trials that focus on Tai Ji Quan and postural control in people with Parkinson’s disease (The New England Journal of Medicine) and prevention of falls and injurious falls in older adults at high risk of falling (JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Network Open).


Keynote title:      Transforming traditional Tai Ji Quan techniques into integrative movement therapy for older adults at high risk of falling and people with movement disorders
Tai Ji Quan, developed as an internal martial art, has traditionally served multiple purposes, including self-defense, competition/performance, and prevention of chronic disease. The health benefits associated with Tai Ji Quan are now being supported by scientific research, with strong evidence showing its potential value in preventing and managing chronic diseases, reducing falls and injurious falls, and improving strength and balance in older adults and people with Parkinson’s disease. The research findings are of high public health significance and clinical relevance and have led to great clinical efforts transforming traditional Tai Ji Quan movements into therapeutic interventions to maximize its ultimate utility. This presentation introduces Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance (TJQMBB), a balance-training therapy that involves the use of Tai Ji Quan principles and Yang-style-based movements to form an innovative, therapeutic approach that integrates motor, sensory, and cognitive components to improve postural control, gait, and mobility for older adults and those who have neurodegenerative movement impairments. TJQMBB provides a synergy of traditional and contemporary Tai Ji Quan practice with the ultimate goal of improving balance and gait, enhancing performance of daily functional tasks, and reducing falls among older adults and people with neurodegenerative diseases.


            Click here to see Dr. Li’s presentation



Dr. Chenchen WANG, U.S.A.

Dr. Chenchen Wang, MD, MSc, is Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. She is one of the world’s most cited authorities in Tai Chi Mind-body Intervention and Chronic Pain research.

As principal investigator, Dr. Wang has been awarded numerous NIH grants to test the health benefits of Tai Chi. She also has won a 10-year privileged NIH Midcareer Investigator Award and currently mentors over 50 individual and team scientists in the United States and across the world in Integrative Medicine disciplines. Many valuable landmark peer-reviewed publications have originated from these pioneering projects. The trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2010, 363: 743-754) was selected by Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews as an article “most likely to change clinical practice and to confer immediate impact on healthcare.” The most recent trials published in BMJ (2018; 360: k851); JAMA (2018;319:2069); Ann Intern Med (2016;165:77-86); Ann Intern Med (2018 doi:10.7326) further confirm that Tai Chi mind-body approach may be considered a therapeutic option in the multidisciplinary management of chronic pain conditions.

Over the years, her team accomplishments have garnered praise and academic prizes worldwide for outstanding merit and best research awards in the Integrative Medicine field. In addition, Dr. Wang holds many advisory roles, including serving as a Featured Expert for the New England Journal of Medicine Group Open Forum, Tufts Steering and Scientific Affairs Committees, membership in the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health at the NIH, Expert Panel of American College of Rheumatology Guideline Committee, and Vice Chairperson of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Society.


Keynote title:      Tai Chi for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain and Well-being
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a serious and growing public health problem. Traditional treatments for chronic pain have low levels of effectiveness and frequent adverse effects. Our previous research suggest that Tai Chi, a multi-dimensional mind–body therapy that integrates physical, psychosocial, and behavioural components, can alleviate pain and impact many of the psychological factors in patients with chronic musculoskeletal conditions.
This keynote speech will 1) Overview the current challenges and opportunities in treating chronic musculoskeletal pain; 2) Describe new data of Tai Chi mind body approaches for pain relief and well-being; 3) Identify and evaluate strategies for the implementation of complementary and integrative approaches into clinical practice.


          Click here to see Dr. Wang’s presentation 


Yu Gongbao, U.S.A.

Yu Gongbao, born in Henan Province in 1964, graduated from Beijing University. He is now a member of the Chinese Wushu Association and in charge of the Qigong Research Department of the Chinese Wushu Research Institute.


He started practising Wushu and Qigong in his childhood. He was president of the Wushu Association at Beijing University and won a first prize at the Beijing universities and colleges Wushu tournament.


He was the main speaker at several international Wushu and Qigong seminars and presented demonstrations for the participants. He is a contributor to several Chinese Wushu and Qigong magazines. He has published The Scientific Basis of WushuDiagrams of Chinese QigongEssentials of Contemporary Chinese Qigong, and Wushu Exercise for Life Enhancement. He is chief editor of Modern Wushu Series and Chinese Wushu Internal Exercise for Life Enhancement.




Dr. Nicola ROBINSON, England

Emeritus Professor Nicola Robinson, PhD, BSc (Hons), FBAcC, Hon MFPHM was appointed Professor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Integrated Health at London South Bank University in 2011. 

Following her BSc (Hons) in biological sciences (Leicester University) and PhD in immunology at Manchester University, Dr. Robinson studied acupuncture, becoming a registered acupuncturist in 1982. She was awarded Fellowship of the British Acupuncture Council in 2008 and was previously chair of the BAcC’s  research committee.  In 2004, Nicola was the recipient of a Winston Churchill Traveling Fellowship to visit China, to explore educational and research initiatives in TCM.

As well as her experience in health services research in western medicine, Dr. Robinson has conducted research using TCM interventions (particularly acupuncture and Tai Chi) and in a variety of disease areas, such as  musculoskeletal disease, women’s health, mental health, diabetes, HIV and cystic fibrosis. She has an active research career and has written over 200 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals frequently presenting nationally and internationally.

Dr. Robinson  is Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Integrative Medicine (Elsevier), Chair/Trustee of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine, UK and sits on the advisory group of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). She is also on the Scientific Advisory Group of the College of Medicine.


Presentation title: Researching Tai chi – trial and tribulations

The evidence base for Tai chi has been increasing rapidly, but acknowledging that researching Tai chi is not simple, with its different styles and numbers of movements.  In addition, how possible is it to tailor a standard intervention for use in specific clinical populations?   Conducting a randomized controlled trial in an immunocompromised group of young people with cystic fibrosis was an additional issue.  Being unable to take part in peer supported activities and frequently hospitalised was a great challenge.  A research collaboration between Tai chi practitioners, hospital clinicians (at The Royal Brompton and Harefield hospital,  London), and patients  showed how supported internet delivery may be able to solve some of these issues.


Dr. Son-Nam TRAN BA, France

Dr. Tran Ba is a radiologist at the Paris-Sorbonne University  France
After studying medicine for six years in Paris-Sorbonne University, Dr Tran Ba entered the field of radiology, focusing on thoracic imaging and neuro-imaging and training in various University hospitals in Paris under the tutelage of Professors Brillet, Brauner, Rocher, Buy and others. This year, Dr. Tran Ba will become Chef de Clinique at the University Hospital of Avicenne in Paris region. On his last year of residency, Dr Tran Ba started to develop an interest in traditional Chinese medicine and followed courses about the fundamentals of Chinese medicine in a curriculum supervised by Professors Baumelou and Liu at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital (Paris). The understanding of the fundamentals of Chinese Medicine and its philosophical tenets sparkled his curiosity as to how radiology, and more specifically neuro-imaging, could help Western physicians better understand Chinese medicine.


Presentation title:   Brain Functional imaging : (how) can it help understanding the effects of Tai Chi Chuan? Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a modality of imaging routinely used in clinical practice and research in neurosciences. By mapping the variations in oxygen consumption by different areas of the brain, fMRI helps us understanding how the brain works in reaction to specific tasks. In the few recent years, it appeared as a promising tool in the evaluation and understanding of traditional Chinese medicine therapeutics, including acupuncture and Tai Chi Chuan. After a brief introduction of how fMRI works, we will focus on its application to Chinese medicine, and more specifically Tai Chi Chuan.


          Click here to see Dr. Tran Ba’s presentation




Ms. Sweeney-Hillman is an Adjunct Professor of Tai Chi Chuan at Kean University, Union, New Jersey. she has a Bachelors degree in Graphic Arts and Dance from Mary Washington College, a Masters degree in Orthopedic Biomechanics from New York University, and is certified in the F.M. Alexander Technique and Craniosacral Therapy.   

Holly has written numerous articles on the biomechanics of tai chi movement for the International Journal of Tai Chi Chuan.  Her life-long passion is the scientific analysis and therapeutic application of movement to improve human health and performance. Her other passion is equestrianism.


Presentation title:   Tai chi principles based on biomechanics

This presentation will focus on the modern science of biomechanics applied to the ancient principles of tai chi regarding the lower limbs.  Pragmatic emphasis will be placed on understanding the kinematics of the knee and how to work with alignment and stabilization of the knee during tai chi movements.  Content is intended to benefit both students and instructors of tai chi.




Oral Poster Presentations


Dr. Greg MOORE and Dr. James FOX, U.S.A.

Presentation title:   Tai Chi and Musculoskeletal Health: A Systematic Review and Analysis

                                  Click here to see Drs. Moore’s and Fox’s presentation


Dr. Ivan KOLEV, Ireland

Presentation title:   The Health Benefts of Tai Chi – evidence-based summary of the available clinical research data

                                  Click here to see Dr. Kolev’s presentation

The presentations are structured to provide general overviews of the latest research followed by literature review sessions for future proposals and questions from symposium participants.