Karina Oliani

Karina Oliani

Wilderness and Expedition Doctor

Peaks, plummets, and patients

meet karina

Karina Oliani, who specializes in wilderness and expedition medicine, is a postgraduate in urgency and emergency medicine at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein and a practitioner in nutrology at Hospital Santa Casa de Misericórdia in São Paulo. She founded the Dharma Institute, which carries out nearly a dozen voluntary medical expeditions every year to the most needy and remote places in Brazil and elsewhere in the world. In addition to summiting Everest and K2, Oliani is a private helicopter pilot.

Peaks, plummets, and patients
Nominated by: Mark Hannaford FI'20
Class of 2023 Location Brazil
Author: Marcelo Rabelo

A restless soul passionate about medicine, nature, and adventure, Karina Oliani has made it her life’s work to bring medical care to little-known remote areas surrounded by nature. Her experience as an explorer has taken her to more than 120 countries, during which she has built a formidable expedition résumé. She has summited Everest twice and was the first Brazilian woman to climb K2. She is also the first person to cross the lava lake of the Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia (a Guinness World Record). Oliani is also a diving instructor who has made more than 5,000 dives, many among apex ocean predators.

It was during these adventurous experiences that Oliani realized the need to promote basic health and well-being in such remote places. Since then, she has worked to develop a strategy anchored by three pillars: specialized medicine, education, and environmental conservation through an initiative known as the Dharma Institute. She has carried out more than 10,000 medical consultations, surgeries, and procedures in 50 communities in nearly a dozen Brazilian states and other needy spots in the world.

“I’m honored to showcase medicine at extremes and with the spirit of exploration.”

- Karina Oliani

“Often medicine is considered separate from adventure,” says Oliani. “As I have found, a basic psychological understanding disproves this at the starting block, I like to think my approach exemplifies that, ‘Where humanity goes, medicine must follow.’ I’m honored to showcase medicine at extremes and with the spirit of exploration. My mission is to promote the health and well-being of remote communities through the provision of high-quality specialized medicine, education, and environmental conservation.”

As a trailblazing Latin American woman, Oliani continues to inspire young women and girls to pursue their dreams and explore what is possible in life.

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read about the class of 2023