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Scientist Dies Three Days Before Being Named Nobel Prize Winner

The Nobel Prize committee announced its winners for achievements in medicine today, naming cellular biologist Ralph Steinman worthy of the prestigious award. Steinman’s award winning work began in 1973 when he identified a new type of cell, the dendritic cell, which plays a key role in the human immune system. Thanks to his ground breaking work, medicine now has a far greater understanding how the body fights off invaders, and how it can sometimes turn on itself. Though Steinman is certainly worthy of the award he is, unfortunately, dead.

According to the Seattle Times, Steinman died three days before the Nobel announcements were made leaving the committee unaware of his demise. This puts the Nobel committee in a bit of a tricky situation, since posthumus awards are no longer given by the organization. Two other scientists named in the award, Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann, seem to be in no danger of losing their award, though there is no word whether their shares of the $1.5 million prize will be increased.

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The Nobel committee has not announced how they will handle the situation, but it is certainly a tragic moment for Steinman’s family. Congratulations Dr. Steinman, wherever you are.

(via Seattle Times)

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