Susan Boulton Retiring After 30-Year Career in Clinical Research

After a 30-year career in clinical cancer research nursing at Duke, Susan Boulton, RN, BSN, has announced her retirement, effective October 29. 

In an email to research faculty and staff, Karen Kharasch, senior director of Research Strategy & Operations at Duke Cancer Institute, expressed DCI's "deepest gratitude" to Boulton "for decades of dedicated service and safe, compassionate care throughout her various roles in nursing, research and management at the PRTBTC, the DCI, and throughout the health system."

Known for advocating for her patients, her team and the ethical management of clinical trials, Boulton currently serves as the associate director for Duke Cancer Institute’s Clinical Research and Business Operations Office. Before assuming this role in August 2018, she served for a year as interim assistant research practice manager for the DCI Breast Cancer Disease Group alongside her most recent role as ARPM for the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center (PRTBTC). 

Boulton joined the PRTBTC in 2001 as a clinical research nurse, went on to become the clinical trials manager, and eventually, in 2013, was promoted to assistant research practice manager there — overseeing the research practice in both adult and pediatric neuro-oncology clinical trials. During that period, she completed Fundamentals of Clinical Research for CRAs and CRCs at UNC School of Nursing (2004) where she’d earlier received her BSN degree. 

“Susan is the ultimate professional and her contribution to the clinical research of the PRTBTC was a foundation for the breadth and success of our efforts to translate high quality science into the clinic. She was a seminal leader within the PRTBTC and continued to be so after moving to a leadership position in the DCI. We would never be where we are without all of her extraordinary talents — and she will be missed,” said the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center leadership in an emailed statement.

Boulton began her career at Duke in 1985 as a clinical nurse in Oncology. In 1988 she left Duke to work at New York Hospital and Carolina’s Medical Center and returned to Duke in 1993. For the next eight years (before joining the PRTBTC), she served as a clinical nurse on several different units, including Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant.

In 2014, Boulton received the DCI Superstar Award for Lifetime Achievement for her “dedication to work with great tenacity.” 

“If that tenacity could be bottled and sold, she would be a millionaire,” wrote her nominator at the time. She was also described, at that event, as having “laser-like focus” as it relates to the safe delivery of patient care. 

"Susan is the go to person in clinical research, and has always been there to deal with the easier and more challenging issues. She has a great ability to look at a situation, distill the salient points, and come up with solutions," said Tom Dod, MBA, PRTBTC senior business manager. "Susan is an institutional resource that will be greatly missed in the clinical research space! We wish her the best in the next chapter of her life."