Leslie Portney, DPT, PhD, FAPTA

Photo of Leslie Portney, DPT, PhD, FAPTA
Dean Emerita
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Physical Therapy

Dr. Portney retired as Dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and is now Dean Emerita at MGH Institute of Health Professions. Prior to this she served as Interim Dean, and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy

Dr. Portney joined the MGH Institute in 1990, having served in academic and research positions at Boston University, New England Medical Center, and New York University. Her expertise facilitated the development of the MGH Institute's innovative Entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program, one of the first to award the DPT degree. Dr. Portney's primary teaching responsibility is in the area of critical inquiry. She is the first author of a widely used textbook on research design and statistics, Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to Practice.

With more than 45 years of experience and more than 100 publications and professional presentations, she is recognized as a national leader in physical therapy education and research. Dr. Portney is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). In 2002 she was elected a Catherine Worthingham Fellow, the highest honor among the APTA's membership categories. She has served as the inaugural President of the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy, Chair of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), and Chair of the Council of Worthingham Fellows. She also serves as an educational consultant to many physical therapy education programs as well as professional organizations, recognized for her leadership in clinical and interprofessional education.

Dr. Portney is the recipient of the Massachusetts Chapter APTA Outstanding Researcher Award, Doctoral Awards from the Foundation for Physical Therapy and the Geriatrics Section of the APTA, the Louis Lowy Certificate in Gerontology from Boston University, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the VCU Physical Therapy Department, and was named the 2014 Cerasoli Lecturer by the APTA Education Section.

Research Interests

  • Educational outcomes
  • Measurement of functional outcomes in rehabilitation
  • Risk factors for falls in the elderly


Portney, LG. 17th Pauline Cerasoli Lecture: Choosing a disruptive path toward tomorrow. J Phys Ther Educ 2014;28(3):4-14.

Appelbaum DL, Portney LG. Building physical therapist education networks. J Phys Ther Educ 2014;28(Suppl 1):30-38.

O'Sullivan SB, Portney LG. Motor control and motor learning. In O'Sullivan SB, Schmitz TL (eds); Physical Rehabilitation: Assessment and Treatment (ed 6). Philadelphia, PA, FA Davis, 2013

Portney LG. An opportunity to transform educational leadership (Invited Commentary). J Phys Ther Educ 2011;25(2):4-5.

Beninato M, Portney LG. Applying concepts of responsiveness to patient management in neurologic physical therapy. J Neurol Phys Ther 2011;35(2):75-81.

Alzayer L, Beninato M, Portney LG.  The accuracy of individual Berg Balance Scale items for classifying people with chronic stroke according to fall history.  J Neurologic Phys Ther 2009; 33:136-143.

Portney LG. Invited commentary. Career factors help predict productivity in scholarship among faculty members in physical therapist education programs. Phys Ther 2009; 89: 216-219.

Portney L.G., Watkins M.P. Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to Practice (ed 3). Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 2009.

Beninato M., Portney L.G., Sullivan P.E. Using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health as a framework to examine the association between falls and clinical assessment tools in people with stroke. Phys Ther. 2009;89: 816-825. Author Response to Invited Commentary. Phys Ther 2009;89:827-828.

Portney L, Flores AM, Abraham K, Fox W. Round table discussion: physical therapy and outcome measures.  J Women's Health Phys Ther 2008; 32(3): 7-12

Portney L.G., Roy S.H., Echternach J. Electromyography and nerve conduction velocity tests. In O'Sullivan SB, Schmitz TL (eds). Physical Rehabilitation: Assessment and Treatment (ed 5). Philadelphia, PA, FA Davis, 2006.


BA, Sociology, Queens College , Queens, NY, 1968
Certificate of Physical Therapy , University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1969
MS, Physical Therapy, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA, 1974
PhD, Gerontology, Boston University, Boston, MA, 1993
DPT, MGH Institute of Health Professions, 2002

Curriculum Vitae