Akira Endo, a Japanese biochemist whose research on fungi helped to lay the groundwork for widely prescribed drugs that lower a type of cholesterol that contributes to heart disease, died on June 5. He was 90.

Chiba Kazuhiro, the president of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, where Endo was a professor emeritus, confirmed the death in a statement. The statement did not give a cause or say where he died.

Cholesterol, mostly made in the liver, has important functions in the body. It is also a major contributor to coronary artery disease, a leading cause of death in the United States, Japan and many other countries.