“Not all diseases affect people the same,” explained Claudia
Oglivie, a recent graduate of the Nursing Science Ph.D. program. “When we look
at the incidence of disease and break it down by ethnicity and race, we see distinct
Oglivie became interested in minority research while
assigned to the Military Medical Research Command at Fort Detrick, MD.
During her assignment in the military, she served in various
leadership positions and as program manager overseeing various congressionally
directed research programs. She worked in women’s health research, breast cancer
research, and telemedicine and advanced technology research.
Oglivie explained that it became evident that research in
underserved population was limited in many areas. This was also evident in
major diseases where the incidence was lower in minority communities but the
morbidity/mortality rate was higher.
“At the time I was
not a researcher so I was not involved with the science but with the
programmatic oversight….but now with the Ph.D., I may be able to contribute to
the gaps in research in the minority communities,” she said. “As a member of a
minority group, born in Central America, I am passionate about increasing
minority research to help explore the issues that affect us.”
She explained that minority research is important because
scientists require up to date information to assist in prevention and provide
recommendations for care.
“The people in these communities just don’t have the
information about how diseases may affect them and their role in contributing
to prevention practices. If you consider the plight of the minority community,
many are focused on finding work, providing for their families and the day to
day challenges. Research is not at the front of their mind,” she said.
Oglivie is passionate about providing education on how
minority communities can participate in research. In her study, her
participants were very excited about sharing how diseases affected them.
Achieving a Ph.D. has been a long road for Oglivie, this is
her third and finally successful attempt to obtain a doctorate degree. She made
previous attempts while on active duty, but the military mission always took
precedence and work schedule requirements made it very challenging. She
attended the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health while assigned at the
Medical Military Research Command in Frederick, Maryland. One of her classmates
and colleague was Dr. Antonio Novello, the first Hispanic woman to hold the
position of surgeon general. As two Hispanic women, they spent time discussing
the issues in minority communities.
“As an older student, the question is often asked, what are
you going to do with your degree? This is self-fulfilling for me because I always
wanted the knowledge to be better informed, to be a better instructor, and a
participant in the research process,” she said. “I wanted to be able to better
prepare our nurses today.”
Oglivie’s dissertation was on osteoarthritis in Hispanic
women 65 years and older.
“Arthritis is prevalent in Hispanic women where activity
limitation is notably higher because of socioeconomic factors such as
occupation, education, and income. There is a correlation between low education
that results in low income and occupations that are labor intensive and jobs in
factories that require repetitive body movement,” she said. “In addition, lack
of exercise and obesity are all factors that impact osteoarthritis.”
She explained that the Center for Disease Control did a
study where they compared Hispanic subgroups i.e., Cuban Americans, Mexican
Americans, and Puerto Ricans and found that Puerto Ricans were more susceptible
to the activity limitations found in osteoarthritis. She would like to build
upon this research by looking at additional factors and the differences in each
“There is a correlation between research needs and funding.
If there is no funding for the research then you’ll find that there is less
research in that area. As a program manager with the Department of Defense, we
dealt with funding issues related to research needs. There is an Office of
Minority Health that identities their research agenda and that is where I will
look for future funding,” she said.
Oglivie, who is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, has
had extensive teaching experience in both military and civilian training of
medics and nurses. Her military assignments included positions in education and
administration in military medical centers.
She plans to continue teaching in the near future, where she
will be able to highlight the importance of cultural sensitivity when working
“I enjoy teaching, there is quite a lot to learn in a basic
nursing curriculum. There is a generational difference in student nurses today
compared to when I received training in New York City many years ago. With
today’s changing world, cultural sensitivity is essential to the practice of
This article is part of the “Meet The Researcher” series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.