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Bio Innovations Speaker Series

The next Bio Innovations Speaker Series event will be held in February 2023. More information will be available soon.

December 7, 2022 - 4:30-6:30pm in the Ply Conference Room, Innovation and Research Park at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

Stress And How It Connects To Mental & Physical Health Disorders

Rosalind Franklin University Moderator:

Kristin Schneider, PhD 

Dr. Kristin L. Schneider is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the College of Health Professions’ Associate Dean of Research. She obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in health psychology and associated methods from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Following completion of a clinical health psychology internship at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, she completed a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School with Dr. Sherry Pagoto.  She joined the Department of Psychology at RFUMS in 2012.

Rosalind Franklin University Panelists:

Joanna Dabrowska, PhD

Dr. Joanna Dabrowska earned a PharmD in 2000 from Wroclaw Medical University and a PhD in Neuropharmacology in 2006 from the Medical University of Silesia. She continued her postdoctoral training at Emory University and in 2012 she was awarded a ‘Pathway to Independence’ K99/R00 grant from NIMH. In 2014, she joined the faculty of the Chicago Medical School as an associate professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology and neuroscience. The goal of research in the Dabrowska Lab is to understand how repeated stress exposure can lead to neuroplasticity of selective neuronal circuits and long-term changes in stress-coping behavior, which ultimately leads to the development of psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, and/or addiction.

Monika Waszczuk, PhD

Dr. Monika Waszczuk is an Associate Professor of Psychology. She completed her undergraduate training at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK. Afterwards, Dr. Waszczuk received her MSc and PhD in Behavioral Genetics from the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, UK. Following her graduate training, Dr. Waszczuk joined the Department of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University in New York, where she completed her postdoctoral training and conducted research as an Assistant Professor. Many of her projects at Stony Brook University have been in collaboration with the World Trade Center Health and Wellness Program. Her research includes the Etiology of psychiatric conditions, in particular emotional disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety, PTSD), in developmental and adult populations.

Brian Feinstein, PhD

Dr. Brian A. Feinstein is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. He obtained his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Stony Brook University in 2015 after completing an APA-accredited internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Then, he completed an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship (F32) at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University from 2015-2018. Following the completion of his postdoctoral fellowship, he served as a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University from 2018-2020. He joined the Department of Psychology at RFUMS in 2020. Dr. Feinstein is also involved in a number of professional activities including serving as an Associate Editor at Archives of Sexual Behavior and the Behavior Therapist. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois. His research interests include mental health, substance use, sexual health, and relationship functioning in Sexual and Gender Minority populations.

Industry Panelists

Katherine Leaderbrand, PhD
Associate Director for Research at Aptinyx, Inc. 

Katie is an Associate Director for Research at Aptinyx, Inc. She is a researcher and administrator with interest in furthering scientific understanding of neurobiological and neuropsychiatric illness. She is Passionate about both conducting and facilitating translational and applied research with the ultimate goal of improving treatment outcomes for individuals with CNS disorders.

At Aptinyx, Inc., she collaborates with research partners and members of business development, clinical, and administrative teams to develop strategic research goals and initiatives, executing preclinical research programs, developing scientific communications, and leveraging data to support informed decision-making. Katie completed her doctoral research at Northwestern, Feinberg School of Medicine.

As part of her repertoire, she had designed and conducted pharmacological, genetic, and biochemical experiments to discover previously unknown glutamatergic and cholinergic mechanisms of fear-related learning and memory as well as affective behavior. She has characterized neurotransmitter receptor and kinase interactions and expression in brain tissues. In addition, she has optimized use of software, reagents, and equipment to implement state-of-the-art protein analysis protocols. She has also analyzed complex data sets to generate meaningful figures, reports, and presentations including scientific manuscripts, abstracts, and grant applications, both independently and collaboratively.  Her background includes supervising and training incoming graduate students and undergraduate research assistants. She has also served as ad hoc reviewer for the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Ethel Larsson
VP and General Manager, Head of Psychiatry Business Unit, Lundbeck






Venoncia M. Baté-Ambrus, PhD, MS, MA
Executive Director, Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County

Dr. Venoncia M. Baté-Ambrus is the Executive Director of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County after a 20-year career in non-profit health, human services, and academia. She began working as a Community Health Worker (CHW) before becoming a community health psychologist and pastoral counselor specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), spirituality, and integrated care. Promoting health equity and access to care whether in hospitals, clinics, hospice and palliative care, or behavioral healthcare settings is her life’s work. Dr. Baté-Ambrus was appointed and/or elected to multiple boards, advisories, and committees, including sections of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). She is a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) practitioner, in addition to being a public speaker and educator on cultural humility and social determinants of health.



This speaker series is co-partnered with Lake County Partners and sponsored by McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP.