Plenary Speakers

Prof. Robert Riener, Dr.-Ing. 

Professor at ETH and University of Zurich

Robert Riener studied Mechanical Engineering at TU München, Germany, and University of Maryland, USA. He received a Dr.-Ing. degree in Engineering from the TU München in 1997. After postdoctoral work from 1998-1999 at the Centro di Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, he returned to TU München, where he completed his Habilitation in the field of Biomechatronics in 2003. In 2003 he became assistant professor at ETH​ Zurich and Spinal Cord Injury Center of the University Hospital Balgrist (“double-professorship”); since 2010 he has been full professor for Sensory-Motor Systems, ETH Zurich. Since 2012, Riener is member of the Department of Health Sciences and Technology, which he is chairing as head since 2016. Riener has published more than 400 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles, 20 books and book chapters and filed 22 patents. He has received 18 personal distinctions and awards including the Swiss Technology Award in 2006, the IEEE TNSRE Best Paper Award 2010, and the euRobotics Technology Transfer Awards 2011 and 2012. Riener’s research focuses on the investigation of the sensory-motor interactions between humans and machines. This includes the development of user-cooperative robotic devices and virtual reality technologies applied to neurorehabilitation. Riener is the initiator and organizer of the Cybathlon, for which he received the European Excellence Award.

Dr. Jianan Li 

Jianan Li is a professor and chief doctor in rehabilitation medicine working as Chair of the Center of Rehabilitation Medicine, Jiangsu Province Hospital a​nd President of the Zhongshan Rehabilitation Hospital, Nanjing, China.

He is an international associate of National Academy of Medicine, USA and the Immediate past President, International Society of Physical and Rehab Medicine as well as the associated editor, Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. He is also President, the Chinese ​Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Chief Editor, Chinese Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Prof. Jacqueline Close (Geriatrician): Australia

[MCI and fall prevention in elderly]
Principal Research Fellow, NeuRA
Conjoint Professor, UNSW

Consultant Geriatrician, Prince of Wales Hospital

Topic: Preventing Falls in people with Cognitive Impairment 


Prof. Jacqui Close trained as a geriatrician at King’s College Hospital in London. During this period she started her research in falls and fall-related injury in older people, including her thesis which demonstrated the value of assessment and intervention for older fallers attending the Emergency Department.

She moved to Sydney in 2006 and now combines a clinical and academic career at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Neuroscience Research Australia.

Her primary research area is falls in people with cognitive impairment and dementia and particularly the relationship of cognitive function to postural stability, falls and fractures. She also has an epidemiological interest in the impact of falls and injury to health service use and the way in which health services are designed to prevent and manage falls and injury in older people.

Over the past 15 years she has combined research with clinical practice and provided leadership in relation to ensuring that research is translated into policy, guidelines and everyday practice.

Prof. Vishwa S. Raj


Dr. Raj is currently the director of oncology rehabilitation services at Carolinas Rehabilitation, where he also serves Medical Director at Carolinas Rehabilitation and Medical Director for Admissions. He is also the Chief of Oncology Rehabilitation for the Levine Cancer Institute. Dr. Raj provides cancer rehabilitation services on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, with specific emphasis on lymphedema management, hematological malignancy, and neurological tumor rehabilitation. Dr. Raj is active in many regional and national initiatives regarding the rehabilitation of oncology patients, and participates in research activities relating to functional improvement for individuals suffering from cancer. He is also very involved in national initiatives relating to health care reform, patient accessibility, and utilization for inpatient rehabilitation in the United States.

Topic: Cancer Rehabilitation: A Global Opportunity to Improve Access for Rehabilitation Services


2013 - present

Vice-Chairperson of Clinical Operations for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitationl

2010 - present 

Medical Director of Oncology Rehabilitation of Carolinas Rehabilitation

2007 – present

Medical Director of Admissions of Carolinas Rehabilitation

2016 - present

Chief of Cancer Rehabilitation Levine Cancer Institute

Prof. Linda Denehy

PhD-qualified physiotherapist

Head of the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne

Topic:  Exercise Oncology: Is Exercise Medicine? 


Professor Denehy has been a teaching and research academic since 1993 and obtained her PhD in 2002. She has extensive teaching and learning experience, has developed curricula in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy both at under and post graduate level and lead the implementation of the new three year Doctor of Physiotherapy course at The University of Melbourne.

She has supervised over 25 research higher degree students to completion and has extensive research expertise in the area of cardiorespiratory physiotherapy, particularly in patient populations who are acutely unwell, including in critically ill patients in the intensive care unit.

She has over 100 research publications in peer reviewed journals, has 15 invited editorials or book chapters and has been invited to 25 national and international meetings as a key note speaker. These include the European Respiratory Society 2014 (lung cancer) and the American Thoracic Society 2014 (Critical care).

Prof Denehy has been successful in obtaining funding from over 30 applications of over AUD $6million for research into physiotherapy and rehabilitation, including as a chief investigator on five nationally competitive grants in rehabilitation after critical illness, lung cancer and breathlessness in COPD.

Prof Denehy reviews for national and international competitive granting bodies and for several international scientific journals including, Lung Cancer, Intensive Care Medicine, Critical Care Medicine and Thorax.