History

Our story dates back to 1938 when Dr. Jacinto Convit graduated from medical school and moved to the main leprosarium of Venezuela, near the capital of Caracas. He wanted to understand the clinical, pathological, social and human aspects of the disease aiming to alleviate the long time suffering and social exclusion of leprosy patients. For years, with a team of doctors and pharmacists he worked to find a drug that could prove that leprosy was curable and with this put an end to the compulsory isolation of patients. As he achieved this, Venezuela became the first country to close the leprosariums and start treating leprosy patients in their own communities, a model that became a world reference in the treatment of the disease. For decades he focused on the development of a vaccine to treat leprosy, based on a combination of the Mycobacterium leprae and BCG. His tireless work and studies on infectious diseases that affect the poorest in remote “forgotten” villages, led him a few years later to develop a vaccine to treat leishmaniasis, another devastating cutaneous disease that is endemic in tropical countries. This vaccine was based on his prior model for leprosy, using a mix of Leishmania with BCG. During his last years of life, Dr. Convit took upon a new challenge, cancer, as he saw in this disease an immunosuppressive behavior similar to that in leprosy and leishmaniasis, and proposed a personalized immunotherapy based on his experiences treating infectious diseases. Since early in his career, Dr. Convit believed in the body’s ability to contribute to the healing process of a disease, and constantly searched for the best way to boost the patient’s own immune system to combat a disease.

In 2010, with Dr. Convit well into his nineties, a multidisciplinary group of young professionals led by his granddaughter saw the urgent need to protect, support and continue his efforts. They incorporated a small non-governmental organization “Asociación Civil para el Desarrollo de la Inmunoterapia del Cáncer” and in 2012 created Fundación Jacinto Convit (FJC), which absorbed the prior organization and “Asociación Civil para la Investigación Dermatológica” founded by Dr. Convit in 1960. This, with the purpose of uniting efforts under one consolidated institution to provide continuity to Dr. Convit´s legacy as a whole in Venezuela. In 2014, Jacinto Convit World Organization Inc., a non-profit organization was incorporated in California, to promote the work in other regions of the world and engage in new scientific projects with different institutions to help vulnerable populations.

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