Dr Regina Leung

2008 grant recipient

Joanna Diong

Dr Regina Leung completed her PhD in 2012 at The University of Sydney in the area of exercise training in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She is a NSW physiotherapist and currently works as both the pulmonary rehabilitation coordinator at Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney and the project coordinator of a multi-centered NHMRC grant titled: ‘Oxygen therapy in pulmonary rehabilitation.
Different to most other grant recipients, Regina did not complete her under-graduate degree with flying colours and she did not complete an honors degree. After graduation, she worked in a medium-sized hospital for seven years and the concept of conducting research was far from her mind until she met the research team led by Professor Jennifer Alison in 2005. The team has given her a different perspective of evidence-based practice and the importance of research in physiotherapy.

Research areas and findings

Regina’s PRF grant was awarded in 2008 and the project was titled ‘Does short-form Sun-style Tai Chi improve exercise capacity in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?: a single-blind, randomised controlled trial’ which was supervised by Professor Jennifer Alison, Dr Zoe Mckeough and Professor Matthew Peters. The findings of the study showed that, compared with usual medical care, Tai Chi improved exercise capacity, balance, physical performance, quadriceps strength, health-related quality of life, anxiety and self-reported efficacy in functional performance in people with COPD. In addition, the study also showed that Tai Chi was an exercise modality capable of producing a moderate level of exercise intensity in people with COPD which meets the exercise prescription recommendations for exercise training in this group. The results of the study were very encouraging as Tai Chi is a training modality which requires no specific training venue and no equipment and thus is a readily available and inexpensive training modality that can be delivered to people with COPD in metropolitan and rural locations.

Achievements with grant money

Funds from the PRF seeding grant supported the employment of a blinded assessor for the project and also supported the transportation expenses of participants. The study was novel, important and had never been researched anywhere in the world in such a comprehensive way. The research area has grown since then and our research group’s publications have been included in recent meta-analysis and systematic reviews of Tai Chi exercise in COPD.


1. Leung, R.W.M., Alison, J.A., Mckeough, Z.J., et al. 2011. A study design to investigate the effect of short-form Sun-style Tai Chi in improving functional exercise capacity, physical performance, balance and health related quality of life in people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Contemporary Clinical Trials, 32, 267-272.

2. Leung, R., Mckeough, Z., Peters, M., et al. 2013a. Short-form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD. European Respiratory Journal, 41, 1051-7.

3. Leung, R.W., Mckeough, Z.J. & Alison, J.A. 2013b. Tai Chi as a form of exercise training in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Expert review of respiratory medicine, 7, 587-92.

4. Leung, R.W.M., Mckeough, Z.J., Peters, M.J., et al. 2015. Experiences and perceptions of the short-form Sun-style Tai Chi training in Caucasians with COPD. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 7, 131-135.