Canadian Space Agency

Deep Space Healthcare Challenge

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David Saint-Jacques

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut

  • Full bio

    Engineer, astrophysicist, physician and pilot, David Saint-Jacques is an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency. He is married and has three children.

    Prior to joining the Canadian space program, he was practising medicine in Inuit communities overlooking Hudson Bay.

    He was selected in 2009 and joined the 20th NASA astronaut class. Upon completion of training, he held various operations, planning and support functions for NASA’s Mission Control Center and Astronaut Office.

    In 2018, David flew as co-pilot of the Soyuz MS-11 rocket to the International Space Station, where he lived 204 days and worked as flight engineer and crew medical officer of Expedition 58/59. There he conducted numerous scientific experiments, performed a spacewalk and used Canadarm2 to berth a visiting spacecraft.

Dr. Shannon McDonald

Acting Chief Medical Officer at the First Nations Health Authority

  • Full bio

    Dr. Shannon McDonald, proudly Metis/Anishinabe with deep roots in the Red River Valley of Manitoba, is the Acting Chief Medical Officer at the First Nations Health Authority. Dr. McDonald is a trained physician, with post-graduate medical training in Community Medicine and Psychiatry, and has worked for over 25 years in the area of First Nations and Aboriginal Health. Dr. McDonald has extensive experience both in the federal and provincial government contexts. As an influential leader, Dr. McDonald was awarded BC’s Physician Champions of Change award by the Doctors of BC for her leadership and advocacy for physician services in BC’s rural and remote First Nations communities.

Diane Côté

Chief Executive Officer at MEDTEQ+

  • Full bio

    Diane Côté is the CEO of MEDTEQ+, an industry-led consortium accelerating the development of innovative healthcare solutions through collaborative projects and through investments in leading Canadian SMEs. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Digital Health and Discovery Platform/DHDP, led by Imagia and the Terry Fox Research Institute. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Trans-MedTech Institute and a member of the Innovation Working Group of the Healthy Brains for Health Lives/HBHL initiative.

    Diane was a member of the Advisory Council on Deep Space Healthcare of the Canadian Space Agency. She was also Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQ-S). She has been a member of the Life Sciences Advisory Group of Global Affairs Canada and was a member of the Board of AlterGo, a non-profit organisation supporting social inclusion. Diane was previously Vice-President-Quebec of Medtech Canada. During her work in industry, she was the CEO of a healthcare technology company specialising in AI/neural networks for clinical risk management tools. She held various management assignments at IBM Canada. She also led mandates in strategic planning, financing and partnerships at Innovitech, a strategic broker in the development of innovative economic and business models.

Elissa Strome

Executive Director of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy at CIFAR

  • Full bio

    Elissa Strome is the Executive Director of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy at CIFAR. She works with leaders at Canada’s three national AI Institutes in Edmonton (Amii), Montreal (Mila), and Toronto (Vector Institute) and across the country to advance Canada’s leadership in AI research and innovation. She is a champion for Canada’s position in AI research, innovation, and policy internationally. Elissa is a member of the federal government’s AI Advisory Council, the Joint Ministers’ (Ontario) Roundtable on AI and health data, and the OECD Network of Experts on AI.

    Elissa completed her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of British Columbia. Following a post-doc at Lund University, in Sweden, she decided to pursue a career in research strategy, policy and leadership. From 2008 – 2017 she held senior leadership positions at University of Toronto's Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, advancing major institutional strategic research priorities, including establishing and leading the SOSCIP research consortium.

Mark Casselman

Chief Executive Officer – Digital Health Canada

  • Full bio

    Mark Casselman is Chief Executive Officer of Digital Health Canada, the national association that connects, inspires, and educates the digital health professionals creating the future of health in Canada. Digital Health Canada members are a diverse community of accomplished, influential digital health professionals who work passionately to make a difference in advancing healthcare through information, technology, and data management. Mark is a health executive and advisor with 20 years of experience working with executives, entrepreneurs, and clinical leaders across sectors within the Canadian health ecosystem. He has led large-scale transformation initiatives and has been recognized as an innovator in the field of digital health. Mark has a proven track record of working with public sector, private sector, and government stakeholders and integrating both shared and different perspectives to achieve success.

Dr. James Rourke

Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland

  • Full bio

    Dr. James Rourke is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Dr. Rourke grew up on a farm in rural Ontario and attended a one-room public school. He graduated MD from the University of Western Ontario and completed Family Medicine training. Dr. James Rourke was a rural generalist family physician in Goderich, ON for 25 years with his wife and partner, Dr. Leslie Rourke. His practice included care for patients in their office, on house-calls, in the nursing home and the hospital including emergency work and obstetrics, attending 740 births. This provided a lived-experience foundation for a lifetime of rural medicine and medical education leadership in Canada and around the world. He remains active in retirement providing sought after advice on rural health, health care restructuring, medical education and research. Dr. Rourke has had over 120 medical journal articles and textbook chapters published. ORCID 0000-0001-8019-0294

Joe Cafazzo, PhD Peng

Wolfond Chair in Digital Health and Lead at eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network

  • Full bio

    Dr. Joseph Cafazzo is the inaugural Wolfond Chair in Digital Health and Lead at eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network. As a biomedical engineer, Dr. Cafazzo observes healthcare delivery from the inside-out and works on ways to keep people out of hospital by creating technologies that allow for self-care at home.

    Over time he has built an intricate network of clinicians, designers, engineers, researchers, that challenge the norms of healthcare and enable patients and their families. Together they push the boundaries of what’s possible, which has led to the creation of technologies that act to facilitate patient self-care of complex chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure.

Leila Gillis, RN MN FCAN

Deputy Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Director of Primary Care Services at Indigenous Services Canada

  • Full bio

    Leila Gillis RN MN FCAN is a federal government nurse leader and her career has been dedicated to service to Indigenous populations at the local, provincial, regional, and national levels, influencing healthcare delivery over three decades.

    As Deputy Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Director of Primary Care Services at Indigenous Services Canada, Gillis leads the national policy direction for the departments remote urgent, emergent and primary care services across Canada and continues to work to meet Canada’s commitment to support First Nations and Inuit full ownership and control of health services. Gillis’ career was built on a foundation of front line practice in both Inuit Nunangat and First Nation communities and this experience has solidified her commitment to support health system change.

    Gillis is a member of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Principle Nursing Advisors Task Force and has joined international delegations representing Canada at meetings of the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization.

Dr. Shaan Chugh, MD FRCPC MSc

Medical Director of Solutions at Trillium Health Partners

  • Full bio

    Dr Shaan Chugh is an Internal Medicine physician currently practicing at Trillium Health Partners, one of the largest hospital organizations in Canada, as well as at Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto. He has been deeply invested in the COVID-19 response, both on the frontlines since the start of the pandemic, and as the Medical Director of the Assessment Centres at Trillium Health Partners.

    Through Cleveland Clinic Canada’s Advisory Services program, Dr Chugh also serves as the Chief Medical Director for Purolator, a leader in Canada’s premium courier industry. He has been critical in leading the pandemic response and preparation at Purolator. In addition to these pursuits, Dr Chugh has also assumed the role of Medical Director of Solutions at Trillium Health Partners, where he oversees the CAN Health Network, Insight Health Solutions, and the Institute for Better Health driving innovation and ensuring high quality care.

Isabelle Lusseyran

Best Practices, Innovation and Telehealth Advisor at the Montreal Heart Institute

  • Full bio

    Isabelle Lusseyran is passionate about health innovation, and holds a Master of Science in Management, with a specialization in health and therapeutic innovation. She has worked in the private sector, in hospitals, and with not-for-profits, where she has filled a variety of roles, from project and partnership management to organizing and leading innovation workshops and competitions. In addition, she also regularly mentors entrepreneurs.

    For nearly 4 years Isabelle was Director of Partnerships at Hacking Health, an international organization that promotes collaboration between various healthcare stakeholders in order to generate innovative solutions to healthcare challenges.

    Since 2019, Isabelle has been the Best Practices, Innovation and Telehealth Advisor at the Montreal Heart Institute, where she has spearheaded the development and use of telehealth technologies and practices to improve access to healthcare services.

Marina Massingham

President and CEO Aifred Health

  • Full bio

    Marina discovered her love of entrepreneurship on moving to Canada in 2013, having previously spent her career overseas at Novartis, Cadbury, and management consulting firm Kaiser Associates. She co-founded Canadian specialty pharmaceuticals startup TeOra Health, with successful exit in 2015, and joined Aifred Health as professional CEO in early 2019.

    Having witnessed a close family member’s struggles with mental health, Marina is passionate about Aifred’s mission of advancing AI in clinical decision support for mental health, with the goal of significantly improving quality and efficiency of care provision, and outcomes for patients.

    In 2021, Aifred Health placed #1 in North America and #2 in the World in the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE with its AI model for treatment selection in depression.

Challenge details

Who can apply?

  • Businesses or other for-profit organizations incorporated in Canada;
  • Not-for-profit organizations registered in Canada;
  • Indigenous organizations and groups located in Canada;
  • Post-secondary/academic institutions located in Canada; and
  • Individuals or groups of individuals located in Canada.

Individuals or groups of individuals are encouraged to submit an application, but will be required to establish a Canadian legal entity in order to be eligible to receive prizes.


  • Up to 20 prizes of $30,000 open to all eligible innovators submitting a Stage 1 concept application
  • Up to 5 Prizes of $350,000 open to all Semi-Finalists participating in Stage 2
  • Grand Prize of $500,000 open to all Finalists participating in Stage 3

Note: The number of winners and prize amounts may vary depending on the applications received. For each stage, prize amounts will not be less than the amount per winner indicated above.

Key Dates

  • Stage 1 – Design Report Deadline: February 1, 2022
  • Up to 20 Semi-Finalists Announced: April 2022
  • Stage 2 – Proof-of-concept Deadline: January 2023
  • Up to 5 Finalists Announced: April 2023
  • Stage 3 – Prototype Demonstration Deadline: Fall 2023
  • Grand Prize Winner Announced: Spring 2024