Why UK Staff Member Marietta Barton-Baxter Has the 'Heart to Step Up'

Marietta Barton-Baxter
Marietta Barton-Baxter. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 22, 2021) What makes UK the university of, for and with Kentucky? 

The answer is our people.  

We are a community full of individuals who sacrifice for the greater good. During the past year, those sacrifices have been magnified as the University of Kentucky continued its missions of teaching, service, research and healing. There are so many people who worked behind the scenes to make the impossible, possible. In this UKNow series, we hope to honor some of those employees who had the “Heart to Step Up,” despite the many obstacles presented to them while working during a global pandemic. 

This month we talk to Marietta Barton-Baxter, who works for UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS). 

UKNow: What is your role here at UK? 

Barton-Baxter: I am the regulatory program director and project manager for the CCTS Biospecimen Core. I help to facilitate complex regulatory issues so that researchers are able to complete quality research. 

UKNow: What’s the best part about your job? 

Barton-Baxter: The best part of my job is getting the opportunity to help people and solve challenges. I love doing both.    

UKNow: How did your role change due to COVID-19? 

Barton-Baxter: My position quickly shifted to focus on COVID-related research. In April 2020, I helped create a COVID-19 Biobank that provides specimens from COVID patients to researchers. I also took on the role of project manager for UK’s COVID vaccine research studies. This involved establishing a collaboration with UK, Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health-Lexington. For the initial study, we were not only the top enrolling site in the U.S., but we were the top enrolling site in the world. I’m so proud that I can be a part of this. 

UKNow: If you could tell yourself one thing pre-COVID, what would it be? 

Barton-Baxter: Be patient, kind and hang on tight — it’s going to be a wild ride.  

UKNow: What inspired you during this past year?  

Barton-Baxter: I was inspired by all of my friends and colleagues who were working on the front lines. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help.  

UKNow: What did you learn about yourself and/or your community this past year? 

Barton-Baxter: I learned to be more patient and understanding with people. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone in different ways. You have to meet them where they are and help them. I always loved my friends and family, but I treasure them so much more now. You truly never know what the future holds.  


We hope to highlight different employees from across campus in the “Heart to Step Up” series. If you know someone who went above and beyond during this past year, please email us

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.