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Passion for Nursing, Serenity in Living: Lorraine Frazier, Ph.D.
Frazier recognized for dedication to profession, named first holder of the Nancy B. Willerson Distinguished Professorship in Nursing
In Northern Ireland, where Lorraine Frazier was born, nursing is considered a calling. For her, the aura of vocation still surrounds nursing; it was the only profession she ever considered.
Frazier's family moved to the U.S. when she was a child. At the time, her father was ill; being at the hospital was a memorable part of her early days in Houston. The experience confirmed her belief that nursing was "a natural" for her. She read books about health, and she thought about patients and their families. "I wanted to help other people who were going through what our family was going through," she said. But Frazier wanted to do more than serve-she wanted to make a difference in people's lives and in the profession.
In 1978, Frazier received her associate's degree from Southwest Texas State University, now known as Texas State University. After progressing in nursing leadership in acute care, she earned a B.S.N. from the University of Oklahoma in 1993. Five years later, she received her M.S.N. from The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston, where she is now associate professor of Nursing Systems. By then, she was already engaged in research as coordinator for a hypertension study, and enjoying the work. Frazier was drawn to cardiovascular disease because it encompasses a broad range of health issues; it has become one of her specialties.
In 2000, she received her Ph.D. from The UT Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Nursing. As her involvement with research grew, Frazier, who "likes to understand how things work," wanted to know more about the design and implementation of the large cardiovascular biobehavioral studies. She completed a two-year post-doctoral study at the UT Human Genetics Center. She then returned to graduate school at the UT Medical School for an M.S. in clinical research.
"Nursing is a great career," she comments. "The public consistently rates nursing as the most trusted profession. That is wonderful. But what I love, besides helping people, is the creativity, the critical thinking and the passion for learning that nursing demands. You are not paid just to follow orders," she said. "It suits my personality and temperament. I can't be repetitive. I can't just do the same things. I want to be sure that advances in research are applied in caring for patients."
That is one of the reasons Frazier is excited about translational science and interdisciplinary research. Her leadership role as project director of TexGen and director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) biobank has provided her with the opportunity to manage large numbers of samples and data.
"Things are possible now that we didn't see 10 years ago. Translational science uses interdisciplinary approaches to solve problems and is helping to speed the application of research to the treatment of disease and injury."
Fraizer was recently funded for the study "Depressive Symptoms and Genetic Influences on Cardiac Outcomes" by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Nursing Research. Her study explores the relationship between inflammatory protein genes and psychological depression in cardiac patients, a vicious cycle in which the genes may interact with the depression to produce higher levels of inflammatory proteins and thus more cardiac problems than would be caused by genetic predisposition or depression alone.
Frazier praises UTHealth's leadership- with special acknowledgment of School of Nursing Dean Patricia Starck, D.S.N.-for the academic environment which has allowed her to flourish. She notes that her research has had consistent funding, adding, "Nobody at UT has ever hindered my pursuit of new avenues of investigation." As a member of the SON faculty, she is gratified also to have an impact on the lives of students, training new generations of nurse researchers and educators.
Frazier combines a dynamic, results oriented approach to her work with a sense of balance, a spirit of acceptance, and a deep well of faith in her personal life. Reflecting on the meaning of complete health-body, mind and spirit-she says, "We are a collage; we are made up of so many things, so many layers." And although she acknowledges that she is serious and focused in her work, she also notes that, in a sense, we go along with the flow of life, "like a leaf floating on a river."
In recognition of her extraordinary accomplishments as a nurse, a researcher, and an educator, Frazier was appointed the Nancy B. Willerson Distinguished Professor in Nursing on Sept. 1.
By Cynthia Johnson, Institutional Advancement