Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Convit excelled in school, studying philosophy, math, physics, medicine, and surgery. He became a medical doctor, and worked with the poor and outcast. “Throughout his career,” his personal web site notes, “he never charged his patients.” Working with them gave him his direction: Dr. Convit is best known for coming up with a vaccine for leprosy — in 1987. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Medicine the next year, and didn’t win, but Spain awarded him the Prince of Asturias Prize, France the Legion of Honor, and the Pan American Health Organization declared him a “Public Health Hero”. Meanwhile, Convit continued working, leveraging his research to also come up with a vaccine for leishmaniasis, a tropical skin disease which kills 20,000-30,000 people per year. And then he started to work on cancer. “I don’t lose sleep over not winning the Nobel Prize,” he said, “but I do over finding the cure for cancer.” He continued working at the Institute of Biomedicine in Caracas, which he founded, and never retired; he published the last of his more than 300 research papers just last year. Dr. Convit died May 12 — at 100 years old.
From This is True for 11 May 2014