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Whoops: Today's Nobel Winner Died on Friday

Foundation will award prize posthumously
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2011 12:43 PM CDT
Updated Oct 3, 2011 1:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Earlier today, the Nobel team announced this year’s winners for medicine; hours later, it emerged that one of the three intended recipients, immune researcher Ralph Steinman, has been dead for three days, the BBC reports. "The news is bittersweet," said the president of Rockefeller University, where Steinman worked, "as we also learned this morning from Ralph's family that he passed a few days ago after a long battle with cancer."

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The news prompted an emergency meeting of the Nobel committee, because the prize's rules state that “work produced by a person since deceased shall not be considered." The committee said it hadn't known Steinman was dead, and that the situation was "unprecedented in the history of the Nobel Prize." After the meeting, the committee confirmed that its decision "shall remain unchanged," the Washington Post reports. It reasoned that Steinman's death was similar to past cases in which laureates have died after being named but before the award ceremony. (Read more Nobel Prize stories.)

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