Centenarian Nobel laureate breaks femur

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the oldest living Nobel laureate, has been hospitalized in Rome with a broken femur, doctors said Thursday.

Doctors at Sant'Andrea Hospital said the 100-year-old Levi-Montalcini appears likely to recover because of speedy treatment, the Italian news agency ANSA said. Health Minister Ferrucio Fazio, who visited her in the hospital, said she might be on her feet by Friday.

"We spoke for five minutes or so," Fazio said. "She's an old friend of my parents and she seemed to be in pretty good shape."

Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen of the United States received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1986 for their discovery of Nerve Growth Factor in the peripheral nervous system.

Born in Turin in 1909, Levi-Montalcini graduated from the University of Turin. Her research career was interrupted by Fascist anti-Semitic laws in 1938, but she continued to work out of a home laboratory.

After the war, Levi-Montalcini spent 30 years at Washington University in St. Louis. She has won numerous honors, including being named an Italian senator for life.