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Nobel Prize winner, who proceeded with research despite naysayers, dies before receiving prize

by Patt Morrison

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The family of medical researcher Ralph Steinman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in medicine, speaks at press conference October 3, 2011 at Rockefeller University in New York. Canadian-born Steinman, who died September 30, 2011, was awarded for his discovery of dendritic cells. Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Ralph Steinman discovered cells born in bone marrow but present all over the body that were the missing link directing white blood cells to target infection.

His research has proven instrumental in drug development, and yet, for years, Dr. Steinman’s colleagues dismissed his research. The doctor even tested his research on himself when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007. Even though the disease is usually a death sentence within months, Dr. Steinman lived for four more years and just died Friday. On Monday, unaware that Dr. Steinman had died, the Nobel committee awarded him the prize in Physiology or Medicine. Half of the award money will go to Dr. Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann, who discovered sensors on immune cells that help fight disease. The other half, in the amount of $1.5 million, will go to Dr. Steinman’s family.

Guest:

Eryn Brown, health & science reporter for the Los Angeles Times

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