On 19th May 2021 MU-JHU staff held a celebration for Steve Bolton, the JHU-CTU Coordinator as he retires after 30 years of working in the health sector. Staff members who have worked directly with him spoke of his kind nature and helpfulness in training, providing resources and overall hospitality during conference trips in the USA. For the most part, Steve has been living in the USA, travelling to Uganda at least 3 times a year to work onsite for 3 – 6 weeks at a time.
On the last day of his visit, Steve shared a little about his experience with MU-JHU.
How did you join MU-JHU?
Steve: From my place in the States I have always wanted to work overseas, particularly in Africa. By 2006 my children were grown and out of the house and I felt that I could travel and accept a job that included travel. Dr. Brooks Jackson and Dr. Laura Guay at the JHU School of Medicine had an opening for a position assisting MU-JHU. The position was created for a Serious Adverse Events (SAE) Coordinator (based at JHU in Baltimore) for the HIVIGLOB Study conducted at MU-JHU. Soon I became the JHU-CTU Regulatory coordinator.
What key things have you learnt over the years?
Steve: There is an overlap between culture and skills. There is a way you frame things if you are sending a study application to the Uganda IRB and a different way when you frame for JHU. JHU only wants the facts, they do not want anything repeated twice and in Uganda every year you do an annual renewal on a study and you summarise it from the beginning. I quickly became sensitive to what each entity wants and I am comfortable working on documents for both.
What has been your greatest challenge while working with MU-JHU?
Steve: Two things, workload and maintaining good organisational coordination. Right now we are trying to move to electronic records which I am all for because you can have instant access to anything that is in the history. We haven’t always had that and we don’t have it yet to the full extent that it needs to be, so it remains a challenge. The workload is a challenge because regulatory work is meticulous and it affects every part of a study and so when the study starts consents have to be reviewed. All these things have to be done and it falls on the Regulatory team to do it or work side-by-side with the Investigator and Study Coordinator to get these jobs done. It is also very time consuming and even if there are now four regulatory coordinators at MU-JHU, it is still a large body of work that needs to be done. One of the earliest departments in MU-JHU was Regulatory because it influences everything.
How have you adapted over time?
Steve: I am an adaptable person and I have tried to get the focus on getting the work done successfully and just knowing that when work gets piled upon work, we will find a way to get it done.
What next for Steve Bolton?
Steve: Steve Bolton is going to retire and he has a lot to attend to. I have 6 children, 3 grandchildren, 9 siblings and a large extended family in Baltimore where I live. I want to devote time to them. Beyond that, I want time to read both scientific and other literature. There are things I want to see, I have seen remarkable places in Uganda but there is much of my own country and continent that I haven’t seen and I want to see that. I want to show my grandchildren the wonderful things in the world. I also want to do volunteer work. My city, Baltimore is very varied between people who are well-off, the homeless and the drug-addicted population, I feel I can be of value there. I don’t imagine ever being idle.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Steve: I would like to be remembered for being a man who tried his best and managed to be of help.
Profile Full Name: Stephen Gordon Bolton Role: Johns Hopkins Investigator/ CTU Safety and Regulatory Coordinator Background: Advanced Practice Nurse since 1991 Years of Service at MU-JHU: 2006- 2021