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Bio Innovations Speaker Series

June 26, 2024


Presenter and Industry Panelist

Dimitra Georganopoulou, PhD
Board Member, Women in Bio — Chicago Chapter
General Partner, Qral Ventures

Dimitra Georganopoulou, PhD, is an experienced biotech professional with extensive knowledge in scouting innovative projects in personalized medicine, therapeutics, devices, diagnostics and health IT. Previously, she was the director of commercialization at Northwestern University, where she supported the launch of multiple startups and helped establish multiple strategic partnerships and licensing deals. She is on the investment committee for various investment programs and a commercialization mentor for many early-stage companies and prestigious innovation education programs. She also worked at Baxter supporting late-stage technology scouting and tech assessment for due diligence of M&A deals. Dr. Georganopoulou earned a PhD in bioelectrochemistry from University College London.

Presenter and RFU Panelist

Grace “Beth” Stutzmann, PhD
Director, Center for Neurodegenerative Disease and Therapeutics

Grace “Beth” Stutzmann’s research interests are focused on investigating the early neuronal pathology in Alzheimer's disease (AD) using transgenic mouse models and human neurons derived from AD patients. She aims to understand how AD mutations affect neuronal functioning and synaptic plasticity, leading to cognitive decline. By targeting mechanisms upstream of amyloid and tau pathology, such as dysregulated calcium-mediated signaling pathways, she hopes to develop novel therapeutic strategies to prevent memory impairment. Her approach combines basic disease mechanism studies with drug discovery, utilizing innovative techniques like in vitro electrophysiology and live-cell imaging. With a strong academic background and affiliations with various institutions and organizations, including her role as a professor and a director of the center for neurodegenerative disease research, she is actively involved in advancing our understanding of AD and developing potential treatments.

Industry Panelists

Suzanne ReadeSuzanne Reade
President, Chicago ArchAngels
Principal, Chicago Poland Ventures

Suzanne Reade currently serves as the president of the Chicago ArchAngels, a chapter linked to the Washington DC ArchAngels, and has a diverse background in leadership roles. Previously, she held the position of president at the Urban Insurance Partners Institute (UIPI), an organization devoted to aiding insurers in navigating complex urban markets. Through a Ford Foundation grant, UIPI conducted groundbreaking research, introducing innovative underwriting methods, trends and best practices. Ms. Reade’s expertise extends to her tenure as the public affairs director for CNA Financial, where her strategic insights helped the company navigate legal and regulatory landscapes effectively. Before her time at CNA, Ms. Reade’s impactful contributions included managing two regions for the Alliance of American Insurers and spearheading initiatives for the New York Public Interest Research Group, demonstrating her commitment to driving positive change across various sectors. Ms. Reade holds a BA from Syracuse University, where she served on the debate team, and she attended Loyola University School of Law.

Richard A. RovinRichard A. Rovin, MD
CEO, UP Oncolytics

Richard Rovin, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon, offering personalized care for patients with brain and spinal cord disorders, alongside the Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute (ANII) team. Skilled in the Expanded Endonasal Approach, he performs minimally invasive surgeries, accessing skull-base tumors through the nose. This technique, eliminating the need to relocate critical structures, is revolutionary. Formerly serving as medical director of the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center, Dr. Rovin held positions as chief of surgery and staff, while also teaching at Michigan State University's Department of Surgery. He has contributed extensively to medical literature and served as a lecturer and teaching assistant in Chicago's leading medical institutions.

Amanda SchalkAmanda Schalk, PhD
COO, Enzyme by Design

Amanda Schalk, PhD, earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry on a full-ride scholarship from Eastern Michigan University and went abroad to Goettingen, Germany, to earn her master's and PhD degrees in molecular biology from the prestigious International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Biology and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. She spent five years as a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Lavie at the University of Illinois at Chicago characterizing the structures and enzymatic activities of L-asparaginases, resulting in multiple first author peer-reviewed publications. She also has experience as the operations manager at a startup where she also has gained experience as a virtual lab manager.

RFU Moderator

Michael S. RosenMichael S. Rosen, MBA
Managing Director, IRP & Helix 51 Incubator