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Canadian astronaut Dave Williams, right, and astronaut Rick Mastracchio are shown on the space shuttle Endeavour in 2007. ((NASA/Canadian Press/Associated Press))

Dave Williams, the former astronaut who holds the record for most hours of spacewalking by a Canadian, has landed a new job as the director of a medical robotics centre in Hamilton, Ont.

Williams has been named director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics at the St. Joseph's Healthcare facility and will be responsible for leading a team that is developing robotics technology for surgery in local and remote patient care.

He is a professor in the department of surgery at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and holds a physician executive position at St. Joseph's.

"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," McMaster president Peter George said in a release Monday. "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."

Williams retired last month from 16 years as an astronaut. He completed his second space flight as a mission specialist in August 2007, when he assisted in construction of the International Space Station. In doing so, he racked up a Canadian record of 17 hours and 47 minutes in three spacewalks.

His first flight was in 1998 aboard the space shuttle Columbia. He spent 16 days on experiments focusing on the effect of weightlessness on the brain. He acted as scientist and subject in 26 experiments.

The Saskatoon-born emergency medicine specialist, who was selected as an astronaut by the Canadian Space Agency in 1992, spent a total of 28 days, 15 hours in space during his missions.

He has also been head of the NASA's space and life sciences directorate and the deputy associate administrator of the agency's office of space flight.

Williams also trained as an aquanaut and participated in two NASA missions to the underwater research laboratory 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 McMaster staff, who directed some of the research from Hamilton.