The family of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking expects him to recover fully from a chest infection that has left him hospitalized, Cambridge University said in a statement Tuesday.

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Stephen Hawking, shown here at Cape Canaveral, Fla., in April 2007, has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks. ((Peter Cosgrove/Associated Press))

The statement said Hawking was being kept in observation at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, England, and his family was "looking forward to a full recovery."

Hawking, 67, suffers from a disease that damages the motor neurons in his brain and spinal cord, and belongs to the same family of diseases as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He uses a wheelchair and speaks with the aid of a voice synthesizer.

Hawking developed symptoms of the disease in the 1960s but has survived for decades with it and has, during that time, been one of the leading contributors to astrophysics, particularly with his work on black holes and his investigations into the origins of the universe.

Hawking, a professor at Cambridge, is perhaps best known for his book A Brief History of Time, one of the few physics books to become an international bestseller.

Hawking is scheduled to visit the Waterloo, Ont.-based Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics this summer and give at least one public lecture.

Perimeter Institute director Neil Turok, who worked closely with Hawking at Cambridge, said in a statement Monday night he still anticipates having Hawking come to Canada.

"Throughout his career Stephen has battled enormous odds to do great science, and to inspire others by his example," said Turok.

"Our thoughts and hopes are with him at this time, and we wish him the speediest possible recovery.  We are greatly looking forward to welcoming Stephen to Perimeter Institute for his first research visit as a Distinguished Research Chair this summer."

With files from The Associated Press