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Nobel Foundation says Steinman to remain Nobel laureate

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Nobel Foundation said on Monday a decision to award the 2011 Nobel Prize for medicine or physiology to Canadian scientist Ralph Steinman would remain unchanged despite his death.

Steinman was awarded the prize together with Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann for increasing understanding of the immune system.

Rules set up in 1974 prevent the Nobel Committee from awarding the prizes posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize.

Steinman died on September 30 and the committee announced the prize without knowing of his death.

"The events that have occurred are unique and, to the best of our knowledge, are unprecedented in the history of the Nobel Prize," the foundation said in a statement.

"According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, work produced by a person since deceased shall not be given an award. However, the statutes specify that if a person has been awarded a prize and has died before receiving it, the prize may be presented."

(Reporting by Mia Shanley)

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