Posthumous Nobel Still Stands


A picture shows a television screen at the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm announcing that (L-R) Bruce Beutler of the US, Jules Hoffmann of Luxembourg and Canada's Ralph Steinman had won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity and that Ralph M. Steinman of Canada had won for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.

What's the "Nobel" thing to do? Three scientists won the 2011 award for medicine thanks to their research into the immune system that has led to improved vaccines and cancer treatments. Bruce Beutler of the U.S., Luxembourg-born Jules Hoffmann, and Canadian-born Ralph Steinman shared the prize. Sadly, though, Rockefeller University announced later on Monday that Steinman had died just days before, on Sept. 30. The Nobel committee was not aware he was dead when it declared the prize, and its rules stipulate that posthumous awards are not eligible. But in a big-hearted and fair-minded move following an emergency meeting, the committee said the award still stands.