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Studying Binational Health Issues

Posted on January 20, 2009

Victoria D. Ojeda (bio) explains how her professional experience and research interests merged.


One of my interests had always been to work with binational health issues and work with Mexico directly on public health issues, and all of the research that I've done up until 2007 really had just been in the U.S. working with immigrants. But that had sort of been something in the back of my mind that I thought, "Oh, if there's an opportunity, particularly to work with a state agency where I could combine research and state work, public work, then I would do it."

And so an opportunity did come up at UCSD, and I leaped on it and was hired as a social epidemiologist for the State of California for the California Office of Binational Border Health. And in that time I was working on binational health issues, working with Mexico and collaborating with state agencies around different health topics, but then kind of midway through that experience an opportunity came up to go back to research.

And so I determined it was actually a better fit for me, and so I pursued that route. And so that's why I've been at UCSD now, at the School of Medicine, for the last year doing research.

I think what's interesting is for the last ten years pretty much, I've been doing health services research, which is quite different from what I do nowadays. The group that I'm affiliated with works on HIV/AIDS and substance use, and my prior lifetime I'd been doing access to care service utilization, racial and ethnic disparities, and migrant health, woman's health.

And so when I joined the division I'm in now, the focus is really on HIV/AIDS in marginalized populations and substance use. And so that was really interesting to me because I hadn't really done that. My postdoc was in mental health services research. Mental health and substance abuse really go hand-in-hand, and so it was a nice way to bridge that gap, and at least in my own training and experiences.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2008 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference in Bethesda, MD.

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