International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Dr Norberto Olmos Castro

    Status Physician
    Country Argentina


    Norberto Olmos Castro, MD (1912-1962) was an Argentinian doctor who made important contributions to leprosy research, especially in leprosy immunity and hypersensitivity.

    He dedicated himself to leprosy research from 1941. With the aid of a fellowship from the Patronato de Leprosos of Argentina, he worked under Dr José Maria Manuel Fernandez. Fernandez's research resulted in the preparation of the bacillary lepromin known, in scientific circles, as the "Fernandez-Olmos Castro bacillary lepromin." Later, Olmos Castro's investigations resulted in the discovery of the lepromin reaction known as the Olmos Castro phenomenon.

    Olmos Castro was a president of the Argentine Society of Leprology and organised the Lucha Antileprosa (Anti-Leprosy Struggle) in Tucumán province, becoming its first director and administrator. His direction was said to 'humanise' the organisation's methods of dealing with leprosy patients. He attended the International Congresses of Leprosy in Havana (1948) and Madrid (1953), and served on the Committee of Immunology at each conference. In 1961, he served as the Argentine government's official secretary at the First Inter-American Conference on Experimental Leprology, held in Buenos Aires. He published over a hundred medical papers.

    He died on December 31, 1962, of a rapidly progressing cancer. His colleague, Pascual E Arcuri, reported that Olmos Castro continued working and discussing plans for future research even while bedridden, until the day he died. He had submitted several articles on lepromin reactions to the International Journal of Leprosy just weeks before he died, and these appeared in the Journal the following year. He left the results of many of his experiments unpublished, but at the time of his death, it was suggested that this research would eventually be brought to light.


    International Journal of Leprosy, Centennial Festskrift edition, Vol 41, No 2. 1973.

    Obituary. International Journal of Leprosy, Volume 31 , Number 2 Page: 258–9

    'Olmos Castro on the Lepromin Reaction'. International Journal of Leprosy, Volume 31 , Number 2. 236-40.

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