The Nobel Prize for Medicine was announced today and it went to Bruce Beutler, Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman for their discoveries concerning innate immunity. More specifically the prize was awarded to the discovery of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), toll-like receptors (TLRs) and dendritic cells. All three are undoubtedly key components of the immune system so the prize is well deserved.
In a tragic twist of fate, Ralph Steinman of the the Rockefeller University (who discovered dendritic cells) died only two days ago after fighting pancreatic cancer. Apparently the committee was not aware of this so it makes the prize a posthumous one. Has this happened before? The rules do seem to stipulate that someone who dies after the announcement is still a legitimate candidate, and it would of course be cruel to withdraw the prize now so they probably won't court controversy (when it comes to science prizes the committee is considered pretty conservative).
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