Ralph Steinman, a pioneering scientist who worked on the immune system, was just awarded the Nobel Prize for science, as the committee was unaware of his death mere days before the award. The Nobel Prize, which is worth 10 million kronor or $1.5 million, is meant to be awarded only to living scientists. Nonetheless, Steinman’s award still stands.
The committee explained that “The Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was made in good faith, based on the assumption that the Nobel laureate was alive.”
Steinman studied and worked at Rockefeller University in New York since 1970. It was the university that revealed his death from pancreatic cancer, mere hours after the award was announced.
The Nobel Foundation spokeswoman Annika Pontikis said “I think you can safely say this hasn’t happened before. In a further statement, the Nobel Prize Committee said “It is with deep sadness and regret that the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has learned that Professor Ralph Steinman, one of this year’s three Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine, passed away on September 30th.”