Canadian astronaut swaps space suit for lab coat to practice medicine amid COVID-19 pandemic

MONTREAL — Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is trading his space suit for a lab coat, and returning to practice medicine this week in Montreal, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decorated astronaut holds a medical degree, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in physical engineering and a PhD in astrophysics.

This week, Saint-Jacques lent a hand to teams at the MUHC, and his presence didn’t go unnoticed.

Saint-Jacques obtained his medical degree from Laval University in Quebec City in 2005, and did his residency at McGill University in 2007, specializing in primary care medicine in rural regions. He practiced in Northern Quebec, among other places.

But soon he was selected by the Canadian Space Agency, in May 2009. Saint-Jacques launched to the international space station for a 204-day mission in Dec. 2018, becoming the CSA’s fourth-ever astronaut to do so.

He came back to Earth in June 2019, after going around our planet 3,264 times, and travelling 139,096,495 kilometres.

Saint-Jacques isn’t the first high-profile Montrealer to switch gears in order to help out medical teams battling the pandemic.

Earlier this year, football player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who graduated from McGill University’s medical school in 2018, announced he was leaving the NFL to help out in the battle against COVID-19 in the Monteregie.


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