Ralph Steinman has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Bruce Buetler and Jules Hoffmann. However, Steinman died three days ago (September 30th), and Nobel Foundation's rules say that "work produced by a person since deceased shall not be considered". The Nobel Foundation, after a short deliberation announced "
The decision to award the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to the late Ralph Steinman shall remain unchanged, in keeping with the earlier announcement from the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet."
Steinman discovered dendritic cells - special types of cells that are key regulators of the immune system. Dendritic cells act as a professional antigen-presenting cell (APC); they are able to activate naïve T cells and stimulate the growth and differentiation of B cells. Dendritic cells can be found in the lymph nodes and spleen. Dendritic cells are able to retain antigen on their surface for long periods, present the antigen to a B or T cell and influence behavior. Steinman showed that science can harness the power of these cells and other immune system components to stem infections and other communicable diseases.
When awarding Steinman the Nobel Prize, the Foundation did not know he had recently died of pancreatic cancer. Steinman, 68, was diagnosed four years ago. He had extended his life using his own designed dendritic-cell based immunotherapy.
Steinman used to work at the Rockefeller University, New York.
Rockefeller University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., said:
"The Rockefeller University is delighted that the Nobel Foundation has recognized Ralph Steinman for his seminal discoveries concerning the body's immune responses. But the news is bittersweet, as we also learned this morning from Ralph's family that he passed a few days ago after a long battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with Ralph's wife, children and family."
Daughter, Alexis Steinman said:
"We are all so touched that our father's many years of hard work are being recognized with a Nobel Prize. He devoted his life to his work and his family, and he would be truly honored."
"Ralph's research has laid the foundation for numerous discoveries in the critically important field of immunology, and it has led to innovative new approaches in how we treat cancer, infectious diseases and disorders of the immune system."
Earlier on Steinman had worked with the late Zanvil A. Cohn at Rockefeller University - they had set out to better understand the large "eating" macrophages and the exquisitely specific lymphocytes - primary white cells of the immune system. These cells identify, catch and destroy pathogens and tumor cells.
In its website, Rockefeller University wrote today:
"Steinman's subsequent research points to dendritic cells as important and unique accessories in the onset of several immune responses, including clinically important situations such as graft rejection, resistance to tumors, autoimmune diseases and infections including AIDS."
Steinman was head of the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology at Rockefeller University, he was also a senior physician at Rockefeller University Hospital.
Name: Ralph Marvin Steinman
Born: January 14, 1943
Died: September 30, 2011
Place of birth: Montreal Canada
1963 - B.S. degree with honors, McGill University
1968 - M.D. magna cum laude, Harvard Medical School
He completed his internship and residency at Massachuetts General Hospital, after which he joined The Rockefeller University in 1970 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, which at the time was under (late) James G. Hirsch and Zanvil A. Cohn.
1972 - appointed an assistant professor
1976 - appointed associate professor
1988 - appointed professor
1995 - named Henry G. Kunkel Professor
1998 - appointed director of the Christopher Browne Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases
Ralph Steinman received the following awards and memberships:
Freidrich-Sasse, Emil von Behring, and Robert Koch Prizes
Rudolf Virchow and Coley Medals
The Gairdner Foundation International Award
Honorary degrees from the University of Innsburck and Free University of Brussels
The 2004 New York City Mayor's Award for Science and Technology
The 2007 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
The 2009 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research
A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine
Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today