Nobel winner Steinman died before medicine prize announced

A scientist who was named as the joint-recipient of this year's Nobel Prize for medicine died just days before the announcement was made.

Canadian researcher Ralph Steinman lost his lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer on September 30, his family said. The 68-year-old worked at Rockefeller University in Manhattan.

The Karolinska Institute said today that Dr Steinman was one of three scientists being honoured this year for their investigations into the immune system.

The institute said the prize was appropriate because the trio had "revolutionised our understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation".

Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously except in this type of case.

Dr Steinman's daughter Alexis said her father would have been honoured by the prize. "We are all so touched that our father's many years of hard work are being recognised," she said.

The president of Rockefeller University expressed delight at the appreciation of Dr Steinman's work. Marc Tessier-Lavigne added: "The news is bittersweet. Our thoughts are with Ralph's wife, children and family."

Last updated: 2:10pm, October 3 2011