Patient-centered research for better health and healthcare


August 13, 2014

Autonomous Medicine for Space and near to home

Future human exploration of Space beyond Earth orbit and the Moon must deal with a reduced and even non-existent opportunity for the quick return of a sick or injured crew member back to Earth for medical treatment.  These missions will also face considerably increased communications delays between the Crew Medical Officer (CMO) and the ground based Flight Surgeon (FS). At times, these communications will be impossible.  Such isolation requires a change in medical support doctrine, from one of dependence on telemedicine to that of medical autonomy which can be achieved through a virtual medical crew member, a "doc-in-a-box", if you will and integrated crew training.

The reasoning part of the Doc-in-a-box, more properly referred to as the Advanced Crew Medical System (ACMS) in space exploration livery and Autonomous Medical System (AMS) for Earth applications, is based on current research being performed at St. Mary's Research Centre in Montreal.  The goal of the research is to develop a computerized system capable of receiving examination information directly through interfaced sensors and indirectly through observations entered by a trained medical professional and, based on this examination information, establish a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

The ACMS / AMS is comprised of two principal elements: a decision engine which processes the examination information based on rules and associations and a Clinical Knowledge Base which is derived from evidence-based medicine and combined with practice experience of physicians throughout the World.

Like human doctors, the ACMS / AMS needs to read and understand medical guidelines as they are the vehicle through which the medical knowledge, needed to stay current with advancements in clinical medicine, is disseminated.  The application of machnie learning technology and natural language processing (NLP) in support of maintaining the system's medical currency are critical to the development of a truly autonomous system.

On Earth, the need for an AMS ia as acute as is the need for the ACMS in space, but manifests itself in a different form.  Western medicine, as currently practiced, is expensive to the western economies and unaffordable to the developing ones.  Evidence-baased health care applied systematically to every medical encounter throughout the whole World irrespective of the parctitioner's skill level can be provided at greatly reduced costs through the use of computers programmed for autonomous medicine.

For an update on the current state of this research and to view a video describing this concept, please click on the link.

April 23, 2014

The DUrAA (Départements d’Urgence Amis des Aînés) project has completed its first phase – a survey of elder-friendly care in Quebec emergency departments. In phase two, four emergency departments will be invited to participate in an in-depth study. The goal is to generate recommendations to improve elder-friendly care in emergency departments. For more information please see: (link to full document).

March 13, 2014

The DIRECT-sc team is pleased to announce that they have received continuation funding for their research program on depression self-care interventions for people with chronic conditions. This funding will support a Collaborative Community Research Component - a series of inter-related studies that will take place in collaboration with community programs that provide services to adults with chronic physical conditions, such as cancer, arthritis, or visual impairment. For more information please see: click here.

December 3, 2013

The FRQS in partnership with the Direction de l'organisation des services de première ligne (Ministère de la Sante et des Services sociaux du Québec) and Pfizer Canada Inc. launched a new knowledge network on primary health care and services, led by Jeannie Haggerty: Réseau-1 Quebec.

For a brief description of the Réseau-1 Québec project, click here.

** Update - Visit the new website at  **


November 25, 2013

The Health Experiences research team of St. Mary's is thrilled to announce the launch of their website The website features the results of the first module: Family Caregiving based on individual interviews with 39 Canadians. This provides an opportunity to see, hear, and read a range of experiences from people who care for someone with a chronic physical illness. The Health Experiences team, lead by Susan Law, will be launching a French version of the website in early 2014. Work is also in progress for two exciting new modules - experiences of breast cancer in women, and immigrant experiences with anxiety and depression.

June 28, 2012
National Post article highlights St. Mary's study
'Nudging doctors towards a paperless future'


2014-2015  Research Centre Seminars

Next seminar:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Laurie Hendren, Professor and Canada Research Chair, McGill School of Computers, Fellow of ACM

Perspectives of a Breast Cancer Patient: Goldilocks and the Baby Bears

Slide show of the July 2013 - June 2014 Research Seminar Series :

Photos of that year's seminar presenters


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If you cannot find a particular page, please contact one the following:

Alina Dyachenko (for information related to a research project)
Rebecca MacDonald (for information related to research review)
Julia Fong (for all other information)