Venezuelan 'hero' in fight against leprosy dies

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A scientist who played a key role in fighting two of the world's most feared diseases, has died in Venezuela at age 100.

Dr. Jacinto Convit's work toward a vaccine for leprosy helped develop therapy against the tropical disease leishmaniasis. That led the Pan American Health Organization to declare him a "public health hero" in 2002. He was honored with Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize for scientific research in 1987.

He was continuing to oversee work toward developing a vaccine against cancers and published the last of his more than 300 scientific papers in 2013.

Convit founded Venezuela's Institute of Biomedicine. A foundation bearing his name announced his death on Monday.

He also taught for several years at Colombia University, Case Western Reserve, Stanford University and the University of Miami.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.