A Canadian born scientist who was yesterday awarded the Nobel prize for medicine died of pancreatic cancer just days before he would have found out that he had been awarded the prize.

Scientist Ralph Steinman was recognised for his work into the immune system and cancer treatments and the Nobel Prize Foundation said Monday that despite the scientists death, the decision would stand and the late Dr Steinman would be awarded the Noble Prize for medicine.

"We wanted him to be here for this," said his daughter Alexis Steinman, 34. "

"We were like 'OK Dad, I know things aren't going well but the Nobel, they are going to announce it next Monday And he's like: 'I know I have got to hold out for that. They don't give it to you if you have passed away. I got to hold out for that," she said.

Steinman died before the announcement was made and could not receive this news and feel that happiness of a careers work being rewarded by the most respected prize on the planet.

"He was a great scientist."

After examining a rule which bars giving the prize to the dead, and a second which says a laureate nonetheless keeps the prize if they die between the announcement and the award ceremony held some weeks later, the committee said it found the latter rule to be more fitting to Steinman's case.

"The Nobel Prize shall not deliberately be awarded posthumously. 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 committee said.

The scientist was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007 and was determined to fight the disease that normally kills its victims within months. He based his therapy and treatment on his own research with Reuters reporting Monday that the Canadian born scientist prolonged his life with a therapy based ion the prize-winning research into the immune system.