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Bio Innovations Speaker Series

Bio Innovations Speaker Series

Wednesday, August 30, 2023
4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. CDT In-person Networking and Refreshments
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. CDT Panel Discussion

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The Growing Obesity Epidemic and the Impact on Diabetes


  • Christopher Connaboy, PhD, Director of CLEAR and the Human Performance Laboratory

Industry Panelists

  • Anila Bindal, MD, Assoc. Medical Director, Abbott Diabetes Care
  • Bruce Riser, PhD, CEO/CSO, BLR Bio
  • Steve Satek, MBA, CEO of Great Lakes Clinical Research and Chief Commercial of Flourish Research (parent company)

RFU Panelists

  • Ryan Crews, PhD, CCRP, Assoc. Professor, Clinical Research Scientist, CLEAR, Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine
  • Carl White, PhD, Assoc. Professor, Center for Cancer Cell Biology, Immunology and Infection

Christopher Connaboy, PhD, Director of CLEAR and the Human Performance Laboratory

Dr. Connaboy has expertise in understanding the processes of human performance optimization with regards to movement, coordination and the perceptuo-motor processes involved in performing skilled actions. Prior to undertaking his academic career Dr. Connaboy was an infantry soldier in the Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment in the UK Armed Forces. He has published >90 peer-reviewed papers and presented +200 invited, conference seminar and abstracts. He currently serves as PI/Co-PI on (1) a USAF/AFWERX STTR Phase II study: Complex Remote Analytics for a Tactical Ubiquitous Sensor System (CRATUS2), examining the analytical approaches and efficacy of data fusion of the data from multiple wearable devices to monitor injury risk in the warfighter, and (2) A NASA funded study (80JSC017N0001-HHCHFBP) examining the effects of a validated exercise regimen with guided imagery on behavioral health, fatigue, cognitive, sensorimotor, and immune system function in the Human Exploration Research Analog located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Recently, Dr. Connaboy served as Co-Principal investigator on a study funded by the U.K. Ministry of Defence, examining the Optimization of Training and Physical Performance for Women in Ground Close Combat Roles (WGCC 5.5.6: Task 0107), and was a Co-investigator on (1) a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program award (W81XWH-16- PHTBIRP-CR3A): Characterization of Psychological Resilience and Readiness: Cross-Validation of Cognitive and Behavioral Metrics during Acute Military Operational Stress, and (2) a NIH NIDDKD funded study examining the efficacy of Urea as a treatment modality for chronic hyponatremia. He has also served as a co-investigator on a previous NASA funded study (NNX15AC13G) examining the Interrelationships between Physical Health, Psychological Risk and Performance When Operating in Isolated, Confined and Extreme Environments. Also, he completed a project serving as PI on a study for the Air-Force the Special Operations Command (FA8650-12-2-6271): Injury Prevention and Human Performance Research Initiative.

Industry Panelists

Anila Bindal, MD, Associate Medical Director, Abbott Diabetes Care

Dr. Bindal is an endocrinologist in Chicago. She trained at University of Chicago and most recently worked at Northwestern Medicine as a clinical endocrinologist. When she noticed that continuous glucose monitoring systems were an effective tool to help her patients with diabetes, she dedicated herself to the role of associate medical director at Abbott Diabetes Care as of November 2022. Dr. Bindal is also passionate about food and movement as medicine and health equity.

Bruce Riser, PhD, CEO/CSO, BLR Bio

Dr. Riser is an R&D pharmaceutical leader and the CEO/CSO of BLR Bio with a laboratory in North Chicago and office in Wisconsin. He holds multiple degrees in public health and cell molecular biology/virology from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a post-doctorate degree in pathology from the University of Michigan Medical School focused on oncology and the extracellular matrix. He has spent 30 years to better understand the pathogenic mechanisms of disease, drug and diagnostic discovery and development while working in academic medicine at the University of Michigan and Rosalind Franklin University; in hospital-based healthcare research at the Division of Nephrology at Henry Ford Health; and in pharmaceuticals at Baxter Healthcare where he was director of R&D. His work, including more than 70 publications and 20 patents, spans a broad range of diseases, drugs, and devices, with special interest in complications of diabetes and obesity.

In 2014, Dr. Riser founded BLR Bio based on his lab’s discovery that the Central Coordinating Network protein (CCN3) is a natural balancing or hemostasis protein that dampens pro-inflammatory, pro-fibrotic pathways, including those critical in the maintenance and growth of solid tumors. His company has focused on critical peptide sequences they have identified within CCN3 with different functions and capitalize on evolutionarily derived beneficial processes combined with minimal side effects. The disease focus at BLR Bio is on major global killers like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), diabetic kidney disease, and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as orphan indications like scleroderma and pancreatic cancer. He has extensive expertise in preclinical drug development and transition to IND/clinical phases. This includes best modeling systems for unraveling the pathways to disease, new drug targeting, drug MOA, and translation to humans. He is an internationally recognized investigator in the areas of cytokines, growth factors and extracellular matrix and ECM signaling molecules including the central communication network (CCN) proteins in the wound healing/fibrosis process. Throughout his career, there has been a focus on the development of long-term academic/industry translational programs to maximize novel drug identification and development.

Steve Satek, MBA, CEO of Great Lakes Clinical Research and Chief Commercial of Flourish Research (parent company)

Steve Satek has more than 30 years of experience in the clinical research industry. He began his career as a bench researcher at the Northwestern University Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center. Since that time has held senior management positions at the Chicago Center for Clinical Research, Radiant Research, Cognitive Drug Research and Forenap Pharma, where he specialized in the design, implementation, and management of central nervous system and clinical pharmacology research programs.

He is the founder and CEO of Flourish Chicago area sites, formerly known as Great Lakes Clinical Trials. Steve offers a diverse and thorough knowledge of clinical trial operations, which has been presented at over 300 meeting and events. In addition, he has personally project managed and/or coordinated over 150 clinical trials.

Steve currently serves on the Planning Committee and is former Chairman for the Global Site Solutions Summit, one the clinical research industry’s leading conferences. He is also an active member of Global Alzheimer’s Platform, a patient-centric, non-profit organization dedicated to speeding the delivery of innovative therapies to those afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

Locally in Chicago, Steve has served on the Board of Directors for the Swedish American Museum, is currently a Board Member for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, sits on the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Committee for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce in addition to the Events Committee for the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce. He is also Chairman of the non-profit, Memory Care Coalition of Chicago. In 2018, Steve was honored to be recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives.

Steve holds two Bachelor of Science degrees in Molecular Biology and in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an Executive MBA from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Steve is the Chief Commercial Officer for Flourish Research.

Rosalind Franklin University Panelists

Ryan Crews, PhD, CCRP

Dr. Crews is an associate professor within the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. He also serves as a clinical research scientist with the university’s Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR). His educational background is in kinesiology and since 2004 his primary research interests have centered on the intersection of biomechanics/physical activity with diabetic foot disease. Dr. Crews is a former member of the leadership team for the American Diabetes Association’s Foot Care Interest Group and is presently the Secretary for the American Limb Preservation Society.

Carl White, PhD

Dr. White is an associate professor of physiology and biophysics in the Center for Cancer Cell Biology, Immunology, and Infection at RFUMS. Dr. White earned his bachelor’s degree and PhD in physiology from the Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the faculty of RFUMS in 2006 and established an active research program in cellular physiology. His current research seeks to understand how chronic inflammation associated with obesity impinges on both peripheral and cerebral microvascular blood flow and vessel function.