Star service: Local astronaut David Saint-Jacques helps fight against pandemic

published on February 9, 2021
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Québec astronaut David Saint-Jacques is trading his white space suit for green scrubs. Trained as a medical doctor, Saint-Jacques has many years of health-care related experience as a Clinical Faculty Lecturer for McGill University's Faculty of Medicine, supervising medical trainees in Nunavik. This is, however, the first time in many years that he will be actively practicing patient care.

“I wanted to do something useful,” states Saint-Jacques in this CBC video interview. “I sleep better knowing that I’m [making] a tangible contribution. When you help, you feel better about it.”

Saint-Jacques’s first tour aboard the International Space Station was from December 2018 to June 2019, and in total he has accumulated 203 days in space. The multitalented man is also a lifelong mountaineer, cyclist, skier, and avid sailor. He also has a commercial pilot licence (with multi-engine and instrument ratings) and an advanced licence in scuba-diving. Learn more about David Saint-Jacques on his Canadian Space Agency profile.

Saint-Jacques has now started his position in a COVID unit at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

An opportunity for leadership

We’ve seen other high-profile Montrealers pivot to help serve their community. Last year, at the height of the pandemic's first wave, NFL player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif — who has a medical degree from McGill — answered the call to help in the province's long-term care residences. Duvernay-Tardif subsequently spoke about his experiences at this year’s PCMA Convening Leaders.

Watch Laurent Duvernay-Tardif enter the new OASIS immersion space.

Hub of health science

Montréal is a hub for health sciences and is about to take centre stage in the Canadian battle against COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced a plan to produce millions of Novavax vaccines at a National Research Council-owned plant, which is located in Montréal. This move would secure a domestic supply of vaccines as the global market contends with delivery delays and protectionist measures.

 

Read this next: Montréal leads the way in neuroscience breakthroughs

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