Ogilvie was born in 1938 at Glen Innes, New South Wales, Australia, to John Mylne and Margaret Beryl (née McRae) Ogilvie. She was educated at the New England Girls" School (Armidale, New South Wales), finishing in 1955. She completed a BRurSC (Honours I) degree in Rural Science at the University of New England, graduating with the University medal in 1960.
She was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend Cambridge University, where she earned a Doctor of Philosophy for her work on Nippostrongylus brasiliensis.
Ogilvie joined the Parasitology department at the Medical Research Council"s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in 1963 and spent her academic career there studying immune responses to nematodes (intestinal worms) until 1991 when she was appointed as the Director of the Wellcome Trust. She remained as Director until 1998, when the Trust was turning its attention to "public engagement with science". She was the first Chairperson of the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) Board.
Since her retirement, she has played a significant role in public engagement with science and science in education.
As a trustee of the Science Museum and chair of the AstraZeneca science teaching trust, she served as chair of COPUS and Techniquest. She has served as currently Vice chair of the board of Trustees of Sense About Science and is a Visiting Professor at University College London.
Royal Society; Campaign for Science and Engineering. Australian Academy of Science]
She is a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.