Ralph M. Steinmann MD, a senior physician is the first Nobel Laureatte to get the Nobel Award in Medicine ‘posthumously’.
He was a physiciain who co- discovered ( with Zanvil A Cohn) Dendritic Cells, in 1973, which are a new class of immune cells, being important and unique accessories in the onset of several immune responses, including graft rejection, resistance to tumors, autoimmune disease and infections.
Dr. Steinman’s research focused on the mechanisms employed by dendritic cells to regulate lymphocyte function in tolerance and immunity, as well as the use of dendritic cells to understand the development of immune-based diseases and the design of new therapies and vaccines. They can be used to treat a range of diseases from infections, autoimmune diseases and cancers.
A undergrad from McGill University and medical graduate from Harvard Medical School, Dr Steinman was discovered to be suffering from Pancreatic Cancer 4 years ago. Using himself as his own subject, he used his own theory of dendritic cells to prolong his life from this deadly cancer.
However, the cancer overtook and he passed away on September 30, 2011.
On October 3, 2011 he was announced along with two others as the Nobel Prize in Medicine winner for his research on Dendritic Cells.
Since Nobel Committee does not give awards posthumously, they had to take a special meeting and announcement that his award stays valid posthumously.
“These findings ( of Dendritic Cells by Dr Steinman & co ) are the intellectual foundation of how to design a good vaccine,” said a senior Scientist .
Dr Steinman missed the reward for his decades long research, however, the world shall benefit from his discovery for all times to come.
I salute you doc. for your service to science and humanity.