Let’s Talk About Dr. Anthony Fauci
Many are getting to know Dr. Fauci right now during Covid-19, but it’s not the first time the Brooklyn-born physician has brought calm and clarity to the nation during a health crisis. He’s led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 — through the AIDS crisis, West Nile virus, anthrax, Ebola, and Zika. (Early in the AIDS crisis he was a target of activists for a lack of momentum — you can read about what changed here).
Fauci has served in NIH leadership — though he’s turned down the top job at least twice — across many presidential administrations. He worked closely with former president Barack Obama during the Ebola outbreak, and former president George H.W. Bush called Fauci his hero in a 1988 debate.
Why is Fauci so effective? It’s probably best explained by his wife, Christine Grady, RN, PhD, chief of bioethics at NIH, in a 2004 interview:
“He can take complicated issues and make them understandable to most anybody. He does it … in a clear and respectful way, and also with a lot of enthusiasm … He can do that for members of Congress, he can do it for the fourth grade science class, and he does both, or for an audience of virologists. That’s perhaps his most enduring gift to society.”
While I was covering the 2014 Ebola outbreak for TIME, I will always remember one profound moment from Fauci: He personally escorted a nurse who had recently recovered from Ebola to a press briefing and hugged her in front of all the news cameras. It sent a clear signal to Americans that the stigma surrounding people with the disease was nonsense, and it was a much-needed moment of humanity.
Here are some of the best reads to really get to know Dr. Fauci:
- Anthony Fauci’s Plan to Stay Honest (The Atlantic, March 22, 2020)
- Why Dr. Anthony Fauci Runs (WSJ, March 19, 2020)
- A Reporter Follows Dr. Fauci for a Day (Science Magazine, 2012)
- AIDS, Bioterrorism and the Evolving Legacy of Anthony Fauci (Lens, 2004, recently updated)
- “I Saw People Who Were in Pain” (Holy Cross Magazine, 2002)