Oliva is a professor at the Institute of Physics of São Carlos, University of São Paulo. He obtained his PhD in Protein Crystallography and Structural Biology at the University of London in 1988. He was the key leader in the establishment of Protein Crystallography research in Brazil, including the development of the first protein crystallography beamline at the Brazilian National Synchrotron Laboratory, and has served as president of the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development - CNPq (2011-2015). He is member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the National Order of Scientific Merit of Brazil, International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (1997-2001), Fellow of Birkbeck College (2014-) and was profiled by the American magazine Time and CNN in 1999 as one of the 50 Latin-American Leaders for the New Millennium. His main research interests are in structural biology, drug discovery and development against tropical infectious diseases.