Canadian-born cell biologist Ralph Steinman, who passed away three days before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, will remain as Nobel Laureate, the Nobel foundation stated Monday.
Steinman, who discovered the immune system’s sentinel dendritic cells, is this year’s recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He shares half the prize with Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann, Xinhua reported.
Earlier, it was doubtful whether the prize would be rescinded because Nobel statutes don’t allow posthumous award.
Since 1974, Nobel Prizes are no longer awarded posthumously, but the Nobel Prize committee said that it had made its choice before Steinman’s death.
The Nobel Committee defended its decision to award the prize to Steinman. “The decision to award the Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was made in good faith, based on the assumption that the Nobel Laureate was alive,” the foundation said in a statement.
“The Nobel Foundation thus believes that what has occurred is more reminiscent of the example in the statutes concerning a person who has been named as a Nobel Laureate and has died before the actual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.”
The US’ Rockefeller University said: “Steinman passed away on Sep 30.”
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer four years ago, and his life was extended using a dendritic-cell based immunotherapy of his own design.
Earlier, in a statement Steinman’s daughter Alexis said: “We are all so touched that our father’s many years of hard work are being recognised with a Nobel Prize.”
“Ralph’s research has laid the foundation for numerous discoveries in the critically important field of immunology, and it has led to innovative new approaches in how we treat cancer, infectious diseases and disorders of the immune system,” said Rockefeller University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne.