The US’ Rockefeller University said its Canadian-born cell biologist Ralph Steinman died three days before being awarded the Nobel Prize Monday as the Nobel committee was unaware of his death at the time.
“Steinman passed away on Sep 30,” the New York university said in a statement, reported Xinhua.
“He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer four years ago, and his life was extended using a dendritic-cell based immunotherapy of his own design.”
The Nobel committee was unaware of Steinman’s death when announcing this year’s winners and it was unclear whether the prize would be rescinded because Nobel statutes don’t allow posthumous award.
“The Rockefeller University is delighted that the Nobel Foundation has recognized Ralph Steinman for his seminal discoveries concerning the body’s immune responses,” says Rockefeller University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne.
“But the news is bittersweet, as we also learned this morning from Ralph’s family that he passed a few days ago after a long battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with Ralph’s wife, children and family.”
“We are all so touched that our father’s many years of hard work are being recognized with a Nobel Prize,” said Steinman’s daughter Alexis. “He devoted his life to his work and his family, and he would be truly honored.”
“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 Tessier-Lavigne.
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.