ROME : Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti was chosen on Tuesday to lead the Cern particle physics research centre, the first woman to head up the globally renowned laboratory. Gianotti, who joined Cern near Geneva in 1987, was project leader from 2009 to 2013 of the Atlas collaboration, one of two teams tasked with finding the Higgs boson particle, for which scientists had been searching for over 40 years. Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano was quick to applaud the 52-year old’s appointment, saying he was “hugely and sincerely pleased”.