TRACK A- Future of Georgia:

Policy Issues Facing the Life Sciences

During this break out session we will hear from state leaders and industry experts on public policy issues facing the life sciences industry. It will be a great opportunity to hear what the state is working on in healthcare, economic development and technology and how the life sciences industry in Georgia plays into those important issues.   

Kallarin Mackey, MBA
Assistant Vice President of State Affairs, Emory University

Kallarin Mackey is the Assistant Vice President of State Affairs for Emory University, where she leads advocacy efforts on behalf of the university and healthcare system before state legislative, executive and regulatory officials. 

Before joining Emory, she worked at the Georgia Hospital Association in government relations as Director of Public Policy. Prior to moving to the private sector, Kallarin spent three years as a liaison between state government health agencies and the legislature. During her time at the Georgia Department of Community Health and Georgia Department of Public Health, she gained valuable experience working directly with healthcare payers including Medicaid, State Health Benefit Plan and private insurers, as well as working across various public health programs. 

She first began building her experience in the Georgia General Assembly while working in the Georgia Senate Press Office, where she managed the press and media needs of Georgia’s state Senators. 

Kallarin received her M.B.A. from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in 2019. She lives in Brookhaven with her husband, Josh. 

Senator Dean Burke
Senate District 11

Senator Dean Burke, a Republican, represents Senate District 11, which consists of Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller and Seminole counties along with portions of Mitchell and Thomas counties. Senator Burke serves as Vice-Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, and is a member of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, the Rules Committee and the Ethics Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations Committee and is its Community Health Sub-Committee Chair, responsible for 14.1 percent of the states total budget.


Prior to being elected to the State Senate, Senator Burke contributed to his community by serving five years on the Bainbridge City Council and the Lower Flint Water Council. He is also a member of the Rotary Club and former member of the Hospital Authority of the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County. Senator Burke also dedicates time to the Boy Scouts of America where he serves as a volunteer.


Senator Burke graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia Southwestern University and went on to graduate from the Medical College of Georgia. He received his specialty training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercer University School of Medicine and practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 27 years. He now serves as a rural hospital administrator in the role of Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge. In addition, Senator Burke is the Chairman of the Stratus Healthcare Governing Board, and is an advocate for improving health care outcomes in Georgia.


Senator Burke and his wife, Thea, have been married for 36 plus years, have two children, and three grandchildren. The family belongs to the First United Methodist Church in Bainbridge.

Marcus Downs
Director of State Government Affairs, U.S. Public Affairs, Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.

Marcus Downs is the Director of State Government Affairs in the U.S. Public Affairs Division for Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. Takeda is Japan’s largest bio-tech pharmaceutical company and the fifth largest of its type in the world. Alongside its portfolio containing therapies for Gastroenterology and Neuroscience, Takeda specializes in developing therapies for patients with rare disease conditions such as Hemophilia and Primary Immune Deficiency syndrome.


Marcus most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Nurses Association where he led efforts to increase membership, restructure the organization and pass legislation. Prior to this, he was the Director of Government Relations and GAMPAC (the Political Action Committee) for the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG). MAG is the Georgia affiliate of the American Medical Association. There he directed the passage of landmark legislation including the nation’s first Provider Shield Act and the Rural Physician’s Incentive Program. Additionally, he helped increase political action activity by more than 200% in under three years.


Additional career highlights are having served as an Executive Committee member and the Director of Government Affairs for the North Carolina Health Plan. Marcus has also served as the chief lobbyist for the Georgia Affiliate of the National Education Association. Marcus began his career as a research associate for the Deputy President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate.Downs was educated at Morehouse College and received his graduate training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health and North Carolina Central University School of Law.


Marcus has received numerous awards for his advocacy efforts including the National Association of School Psychologists outstanding advocate award. His work has been recognized by both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Medical Association (AMA). He has been recognized by James Magazine and the Southern Political Report as a Top Lobbyist in Georgia for several consecutive years. He is graduate of Leadership Georgia 2013 and is a Thomas J. Watson Fellow (alumni). He is married to Crystal (17 years) and they have two delightful sons, Hayden (14) and Hamilton (10).

Karla Kiriako
Director, State Government Relations, U.S. Corporate Affairs, Sanofi

Karla Kiriako is the Director, State Government Relations at Sanofi U.S. A leading global life science company committed to improving access to healthcare and supporting the patients they serve through the continuum of care. Sanofi is based in Paris, France and US HQ is in Bridgewater, NJ. In addition Sanofi owns the specialty business units of Sanofi Genzyme focused on rare disease, rare blood disorders, multiple sclerosis, oncology and immunology.

Karla has over 22 years of industry and healthcare experience and has held roles in government affairs, advocacy, political campaigns, government procurement, marketing, sales and disease management.   Her specialty focus has been in government relations issues relating to vaccines, pharmaceutical procurement, rare disease, oncology and consumer health.

Karla currently oversees state legislative affairs, advocacy, and alliance development in the Southeast region.  She has worked for the company since 2010 and has been the lead for cardiovascular disease and oncology for the state government relations team.

Representative Jodi Lott
House District 122

Representative Jodi Lott represents the citizens of District 122, which includes portions of Columbia County. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2015.


Born and raised in Maine, Representative Lott graduated from the University of Maine with a BSN in nursing. She spent 18 years as a registered nurse in both inpatient and outpatient facilities within the greater Augusta community. Currently Representative Lott and her husband, Jason, are the owners of Evans Rehabilitation and Wellness, a physical therapy practice in Evans Georgia, where she continues to assist in administrative responsibilities.


Representative Lott currently serves as a Governor’s Floor Leader, Vice-Chairman of the Intragovernmental Coordination committee and as a member of the Appropriations, Health and Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Public Safety & Homeland Security, Science & Technology, Small Business Development and State Properties committees.


Representative Lott and her husband Jason have two sons, Dalton and Colby, and live in Evans.

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