One of the most highly cited medical researchers of all time, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been the author of more than 1,300 scientific publications and has had a decades long career in public service. He has announced he will soon be stepping down.
In an interview with The New York Times, Fauci said he was stepping down to pursue other interests. “So long as I’m healthy, which I am, and I’m energetic, which I am, and I’m passionate, which I am, I want to do some things outside of the realm of the federal government,” Fauci said.
The Deseret News reported that the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has no intention of taking a post in the pharmaceutical industry. Fauci has served in the federal government for more than a half-century — here’s a look back at his career.
Where did Fauci get started?
Fauci grew up Catholic and attended Regis, an iconic Jesuit high school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “All you really need to know about Tony Fauci is that, at five-foot, seven-inches, he was the captain of his high school basketball team,” said Jack Rowe, former president and chief executive of Mount Sinai NYU Health, according to The Washington Post.
Fauci then attended the College of the Holy Cross, a small Jesuit liberal arts college in Massachusetts, and studied the classics and philosophy along with pre-med classes. John I. Gallin wrote, “This broad academic background groomed the future Dr. Fauci for his destiny as an outstanding physician, scientist, educator, humanitarian and public health leader.”
Fauci spoke about his own idiosyncratic education to The New Yorker. “There was this tension — would it be humanities and classics, or would it be science? As I analyzed that, it seemed to me that being a physician was the perfect melding of both of those aspirations.”
After he graduated from Holy Cross, he attended Cornell Medical College. He graduated first in his class and then was trained in internal medicine at New York Hospital.
Fauci’s service in the National Institutes of Health
The Vietnam War changed Fauci’s trajectory. Gallin chronicled, “He left New York for the National Institutes of Health to join what was affectionately called the ‘Yellow Berets.’ He served his military obligation in the Public Health Service at NIH.”
This fellowship at NIH led him to complete his medical training in infectious diseases and allergy.
Fauci left the institute briefly to serve as chief resident at the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center, but then returned to the NIH in July 1971. Eventually, Fauci took over the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984 and became instrumental in the AIDS epidemic.
Fauci’s role in the AIDS epidemic
Michael J. O’Loughlin highlighted Fauci’s Catholic upbringing in how he approached the AIDS crisis. Fauci said, “Certain elements of the church were not as accepting of the community who were afflicted because of the fact that it was predominantly a gay community, injection drug users, commercial sex workers. They were not as embracing of the people who were affected as they should have been.”
Fauci learned to listen to what his critics were saying about his response to the epidemic and adapted accordingly. According to Nature, during the AIDS epidemic, Fauci began a dialogue with activists, which led to effective treatments to suppress the virus.
Fauci was responsible for designing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2003, which led to Fauci being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.
Nature reported that former NIH director Francis Collins said, “His contributions have saved countless lives from HIV/AIDS, Ebola and SARS-CoV-2, and will stand as profoundly significant gifts to humanity.”
Fauci’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic
During the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci faced severe criticism for his aggressive strategy to minimize the transmission of the disease. Even with this opposition, Fauci persisted and was awarded Israel’s Dan David Prize for his contributions in informing the public of how to prevent transmission of the disease.
What’s next for Anthony Fauci?
Fauci announced that he will depart public service at the end of 2022. He has served under seven U.S. presidents and was integral in the U.S. response to AIDS, Ebola, Zika, COVID-19 and other viruses, according to CNN.
Even though he’s leaving public service, he will remain in the public square.
The Washington Post reported that Fauci will teach, write “and use his experience to inspire and teach a younger generation of scientists.”