Anthony Fauci, MD, released a statement on Monday that he will be stepping down from his current positions as 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 is leaving these positions in December, he said, to “pursue the next chapter” of his career.
The 81-year-old has been the director of the NIAID since 1984—overseeing the budget which, in 2022, was approximately $6.3 billion—and serving through seven Presidents. He has overseen the country’s response to many pandemic threats including, but not limited to, HIV/AIDS, Anthrax, Influenza, Ebola COVID-19 and, most recently, monkeypox. In addition, he was instrumental in creating the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which has saved millions of lives.
Some took to Twitter to extend gratitude to Fauci for his tireless effort to uphold evidence-based thinking, remarking on both his brilliant career and his dedication as a public servant.
President Biden noted in a statement that one of his first phone calls as President-Elect was to ask Fauci to be the Chief Medical Advisor of his COVID-19 task force—a role in which Biden has “been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we’ve tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic.” Fauci’s commitment to the work is unwavering, Biden continued, which he does with “an unparalleled spirit, energy, and scientific integrity.”
Fauci is, Biden added, “a steady hand with wisdom and insight honed over decades at the forefront of some of our most dangerous and challenging public health crises.”
Indeed, Fauci has weathered a storm of criticism over the past two years, including death threats. Through it all, he has remained steadfast; the embodiment that science and facts will not cower to—and will prevail over—opinions and misinformation.
Because of Fauci’s many contributions to public health, noted President Biden, lives in the United States and around the world have been saved. “Whether you’ve met him personally or not,” Biden said, “he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work.”
Fauci’s work ethic has been unwavering throughout his entire career, but has been put to the test given the particularly grueling demand on his time over the past few years. Indeed, in 2021, Fauci told Now This News that he hadn’t taken a day off in 14 months.
In 2020, Fauci itemized his daily schedule for HuffPost, which was booked solid for more than 12 hours (with the exception of one 20-minute break.) His day was packed with press appearances, hundreds of emails, dozens of meetings, and visits with patients. A long-time exerciser and runner, those busy days of 2020 ended with a power-walk with his wife.
Hopefully, Fauci’s next chapter will allow him to fill his days as he pleases. Fauci writes that he still has so much “energy and passion” and that he wants to use what he has 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.”
For those of us who admire and appreciate the work contained in his previous chapters, we cannot wait to see what comes next.