McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Canadian astronaut lands at McMaster

Published: April 14, 2008
Dave Williams
Dave Williams, director, McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics

Dave Williams, a physician and astronaut who has logged a Canadian record of almost 18 hours performing space walks, is landing in the city as a physician scientist for McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

As the director for the new McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics at St. Joseph's, he will lead a team dedicated to developing innovative technologies that will change the future of surgery in local and remote patient care. He is a professor in the Department of Surgery of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and holds a physician executive position at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

"Dr. Williams has had an extraordinary career, and he's been a great ambassador for Canada and for medical science — both on and off the planet," said McMaster President Peter George. "His fearless dedication to finding new ways of bringing medical care to remote environments represents the most advanced edge of medicine under exploration these days."

Kevin Smith, president and CEO of St. Joseph's Healthcare said: "St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton has established a reputation as a leader in surgical innovation and medical research.

"The recruitment of Dr. William's, an internationally-recognized physician and scientist, illustrates the leadership role we have cultivated in the development of state-of-the art medical robotics research and technologies."

Williams trained and worked as an emergency physician in Toronto and Kitchener before joining the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in 1992 to become an astronaut. He has taken part on two NASA space shuttle flights, in 1998 and 2007, as a mission specialist and during the most recent took part in a record three space walks working on construction of the International Space Station.

He has held executive positions at NASA as director of the Space and Life Sciences Directorate at Johnson Space Centre and the deputy associate administrator of the Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters. He also trained as an aquanaut, participating in two NASA missions to the world's only underwater research laboratory, called Aquarius, in the Florida Keys. He was the crew commander of a 2006 underwater mission dedicated to assessing new ways to deliver medical care to a remote location, and worked with Mehran Anvari, director of the McMaster Institute for Surgical Invention, Innovation and Education at St. Joseph's, who directed some of the research from Hamilton.

"I measure what I do in my career based on my ability to effect positive change," said Dave Williams.

"As Director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics at St. Joseph's Healthcare, I look forward to working with some of the leading scientists, physicians and engineers and contributing to the next generation of surgical robotics. I am confident that through our research we will improve the delivery of healthcare around the globe."

Besides the research focus of his new role, Williams will provide strategic guidance in physician leadership development and clinical resource management at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton with a focus on building innovative strategies for physician recruitment.

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