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Representative Cooper & Senator Burke Selected 2016 Legislators of the Year

Friday, January 22, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Maria Thacker
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ATLANTA, GA (January 22, 2016) -- Georgia Bio has announced that Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43) of East Cobb County and Senator Dean Burke (R-11) of Bainbridge have been selected as the 2016 Legislators of the Year for their support of the life sciences industry and university research in Georgia during the 2015 General Assembly.

Along with their continued respective leadership roles advocating for better health outcomes for Georgians, Representative Cooper and Senator Burke each introduced and led legislation giving prescribers and pharmacists the ability to substitute biologic therapies with their biosimilar interchangeable equivalents. This legislation, signed into law by Governor Deal, provides those suffering from ailments and chronic diseases access to new FDA-approved medicines in a safe and transparent manner, often at a lower costs.

Representative Cooper and Senator Burke will be honored at the Georgia Bio Annual Awards Dinner, January 28, 6 pm to 9 pm, at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. Other leading companies, executives, researchers and dedicated individuals will receive Georgia Bio Awards. Learn more and register at

Biographies of Awardees

Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43)

Representative Cooper is proud to have called Georgia home for over 40 years. Born in Houston, Texas, she says she’s a Texan by birth but a Georgian first by choice, then by marriage having been married to Dr. Tom Cooper for 34 years. Sharon has lived in East Cobb since 1976. She was first elected to the Georgia General Assembly as the State Representative for the 31st District (now the 43rd district) in 1996.

In 2000, Sharon was chosen as legislator of the year by the Georgia Republican Party and in 2002 she was elected Minority Caucus Chairman by her Republican colleagues. In 2004, she was elected Majority Caucus Chairman making her the first woman in the history of Georgia to obtain a majority leadership position. In 2007, in response to her ever increasing committee responsibilities, Rep. Cooper assumed the role of Caucus Chair Emeritus.

Currently, Rep. Cooper chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, one of the busiest committees in the House. She was appointed chairman of the Special Committee on Certificate of Need as well as chairman of the Special Committee on Saving Grady Memorial Hospital, Georgia’s largest safety net hospital in Atlanta. Rep. Cooper is also a member of the Rules, Judiciary Non-Civil and Regulated Industries Committees.

Rep. Cooper holds several degrees, including a B.S. in Child Development; a M.A. in Education and MSN in Nursing. Sharon has written two textbooks on Psychiatric Nursing and in 1994, she authored Taxpayer’s Tea Party – a how-to book that encouraged the average citizen to become politically active. She was asked to update this book, available now in E-book form and reissued in paperback in July 2010.

A graduate of the first class of the Coverdell Leadership Institute, Rep. Cooper was able to pass a major revision of the state’s stalking law while still in her freshman term. In 2002 A.G. Ashcroft appointed her to the President’s 30-member, National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. In 2006, Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens (now Georgia’s Attorney General) credited Rep. Cooper as being the major catalyst behind the creation of Cobb County Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit. She also served on the former First Lady, Mary Perdue’s Advisory Committee on Foster Care.

In 2005 Rep. Cooper was appointed as the House of Representatives liaison to the Georgia Holocaust Commission. Chabad of Cobb selected Rep. Cooper to receive their 2012 Cobb Community Service Award rarely awarded to a non-Jewish community leader. In 2013 she received the prestigious “Legion of Honor” Award from The Chapel of Four Chaplains, having been nominated by the late Sylvia Wygoda, founding Director of the Georgia Holocaust Commission. The award was given in recognition of Rep. Cooper’s service to all people regardless to their race or faith.

Rep. Cooper continues to author and foster legislation that promotes improved health care for all Georgians such as: the HIV Screening Bill for Pregnant Women, Georgia’s Smoke free Air Act, and the "Health Share" Volunteers in Medicine Act. Recently, Rep. Cooper was recognized for the passage of the 911 Amnesty/Naloxone Bill, which is saving lives across Georgia from narcotic overdose. She has worked for the passage of a number of bills designed to combat the State’s rapidly growing problems with elder abuse.

Rep. Cooper has earned the reputation of being one of the hardest working legislators at the Capitol as well as being honest, straightforward and committed. Former Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller still calls her "the little legislator that tells it like it is".

Senator Dean Burke (R-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 the Chairman of the Ethics Committee and is a member of the Health and Human Services and Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committees. He also serves on the Appropriations Committee as the 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 the Chief Medical Officer for Bainbridge Memorial Hospital and Manor.

Senator Burke and his wife, Thea, have been married for 35 years and have two children. The family belongs to the First United Methodist Church in Bainbridge.

For a list of past Georgia Bio Award recipients, click here.

Georgia Bio ( is the state’s life science industry association whose members include pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies, medical centers, universities and research institutes, government groups and other business organizations involved in the development of life sciences related products and services.

Note to Editors: Credentialed members of the news media are invited to attend. Registration is complimentary. Please contact Maria Thacker (404-920-2042;


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