Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. announced yesterday (Aug 22) that he will be stepping down from the positions of Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, as well as the position of Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden. He will be leaving these positions in December of this year to pursue the next chapter of his career.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have led the NIAID, an extraordinary institution, for so many years and through so many scientific and public health challenges,” Dr. Fauci said. “I am very proud of our many accomplishments. I have worked with – and learned from – countless talented and dedicated people in my own laboratory, at NIAID, at NIH and beyond. To them I express my abiding respect and gratitude.
“Over the past 38 years as NIAID Director, I have had the enormous privilege of serving under and advising seven Presidents of the United States, beginning with President Ronald Reagan, on newly emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats including HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus, the anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola and Zika, among others, and, of course, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. I am particularly proud to have served as the Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden since the very first day of his administration.
“While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring. After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field. I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats.
“Over the coming months, I will continue to put my full effort, passion and commitment into my current responsibilities, as well as help prepare the Institute for a leadership transition. NIH is served by some of the most talented scientists in the world, and I have no doubt that I am leaving this work in very capable hands.
“Thanks to the power of science and investments in research and innovation, the world has been able to fight deadly diseases and help save lives around the globe. I am proud to have been part of this important work and look forward to helping to continue to do so in the future.”
Dr. Fauci’s appointment as Chief Medical Advisor was one of the first calls Joe Biden made as President-elect. “During my time as Vice President, I worked closely with Dr. Anthony Fauci on the United States’ response to Zika and Ebola. I came to know him as a dedicated public servant, and a steady hand with wisdom and insight honed over decades at the forefront of some of our most dangerous and challenging public health crises.” Biden said.
When it was time to build a team to lead the U.S. COVID-19 response Biden immediately asked Dr. Fauci to extend his service to deal with the pandemic crisis. “In that role, I’ve been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we’ve tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic. His commitment to the work is unwavering, and he does it with an unparalleled spirit, energy, and scientific integrity.”
Biden noted in a statement that Dr. Fauci has served under seven Republican and Democratic Presidents during his career, beginning with Ronald Reagan. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 under President George W. Bush. “For almost four decades, he has served as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, helping our country navigate health crises ranging from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19,” the President said. “Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved. As he leaves his position in the U.S. Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next. Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work. I extend my deepest thanks for his public service. The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”
The son of a pharmacist, Fauci’s 1984 appointment as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was a key turning point in a hugely significant career. He has developed therapies for many previously fatal diseases, was a leading researcher and contributor during the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the 1980s, and has been at the forefront of efforts to control SARS, MERS, swine flu, Ebola, Zika, and now COVID-19. During the current pandemic, balancing public health and lives with the need to keep the economy going has been a difficult task. Unfortunately, this often led to political clashes in which the nonpartisan Fauci was inevitably in the firing line. Fauci had first been frustrated in many of his efforts to deal with COVID-19, facing pushback from the previous administration, and on top of this he has faced death threats and seen his family harassed. Despite all of this, he remained steadfast and committed to the public health of every American. He will no doubt be just as committed as he begins his next chapter.