President and CEO
Canadian astronaut and physician Dr. Dave Williams is the President and CEO of Southlake Regional Heath Centre and Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto. Prior to joining Southlake, Dr. Williams was the Director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Professor in the Department of Surgery of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine from 2008 to 2011, and held the position of Chief Medical Officer of Quality and Safety at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton from 2010 to 2011.
In 1976, Dr. Williams graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science, Major in Biology. He obtained a Master of Science from the Physiology Department, a Doctorate of Medicine and a Master of Surgery from the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. Between 2004 and 2009, he was awarded Honorary degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, McGill University, Queen’s University, and the University of Wales (United Kingdom).
Dr. Williams joined the Canadian Space Agency in 1992 and made two flights on the Space Shuttle, in 1998 and 2007. He logged more than 687 hours in space during his career, with a record-setting 17 hours and 47 minutes performing spacewalks, including installation work at the International Space Station. Having also lived and worked in the world’s only underwater ocean laboratory, he became Canada’s first dual astronaut and aquanaut in 2001.
In addition to his role as astronaut, Dr. Williams held the position of Director of the Space and Life Sciences Directorate at the JSC in Houston, Texas, and a concurrent appointment as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Crew Health and Safety, Office of Spaceflight, NASA HQ, Washington, DC. In these roles, Dr. Williams was responsible for overseeing research activities, particularly on safety and quality in relation to space exploration.
Dr. Williams’ many affiliations and awards include: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame Inductee (2012), Board Member for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (2010), Member of Sea Space (2010), Board Member for the Canadian Foundation for the International Space University (2009-2010), Board Member for the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation (2009), Science Ambassador for the Ontario Science Centre (2009), Board Member for the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions Network (2008-2010), Member of the Minister’s Space Advisory Panel (2008-2010), Board Member for Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (2008), A Fellowship in The Explorer’s Club (June 2008), the NASA Exceptional Service Award (June 2008), Honorary Board Member of Neuroscience Canada (May 2008), Member of the Canadian Commission for Antarctic Research, the NASA JSC Space and Life Sciences Directorate Special Professional Achievement (2003), the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2002), Patron of the International Life Saving Federation (2002), and Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (2000).
A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Dr. Williams is also a member of: the College of Physicians of Ontario, Ontario Medical Association.
Having authored and co-authored numerous articles and reviews, Dr. Williams’ work has been published in several prestigious Canadian and international medical and aviation journals.
Dr. Williams brings to his role at Southlake an innovative and unique perspective on how to improve the overall patient experience. Applying processes learned through his time at NASA, Dr. Williams believes strongly that the development and marketing of commercialized, innovative solutions—whether it be process solutions, software development or medical device creation—is the key to redefining the healthcare sector and enhancing our economy.
Areas of keen interest for Dr. Williams and the Southlake team include safety and quality, precision diagnostics and therapeutics, clinical informatics, and computer assisted surgery.