- Associated Press - Monday, October 3, 2011

STOCKHOLM (AP) - The Nobel Prize in medicine awarded to a cell biologist who died three days ago will stand, the Nobel Foundation said Monday after examining its statutes against posthumous awards.

The Nobel committee, which is only supposed to consider living scientists, said it was unaware of the death of Ralph Steinman when it awarded the 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) prize earlier Monday.

After an emergency meeting, the Nobel Foundation, which administers the coveted awards, decided said the decision “shall remain unchanged.”

Since 1974, the Nobel statutes don’t allow posthumous awards unless a laureate dies after the announcement but before the Dec. 10 award ceremony.

“However, the decision to award the Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was made in good faith, based on the assumption that the Nobel Laureate was alive,” the foundation said.

“The Nobel Foundation thus believes that what has occurred is more reminiscent of the example in the statutes concerning a person who has been named as a Nobel Laureate and has died before the actual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.”

Steinman, 68, who shared the 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) prize with American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann, died on Sept. 30 of pancreatic cancer, according to Rockefeller University. It said Steinman’s life had been extended with immunotherapy based on the discovery for which he won the Nobel Prize.