Fauci, Anthony S.

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Anthony S. Fauci

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Born Anthony Stephen Fauci, December 24, 1940, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Stephen (a pharmacist) and Eugenia A. Fauci; married Christine Grady (a nurse), 1985; children: Jennifer, Megan, Alison. Education: Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA, B.A., 1962; Cornell University, M.D., 1966. Religion: Roman Catholic.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Office of the Director, Bldg. 31, Rm. 7AO3, 31 Center Dr. MSC 2520, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Began as clinical associate at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 1968; head of NIH Clinical Section, 1974; appointed Chief of Laboratory of Immunoregulation, 1980; head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 1984—.


National Academy of Sciences, Philosophical Society, Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters, American College of Physicians, American Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of American Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America, American Association of Immunologists, American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.


Arthur S. Flemming Award, 1979; U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal, 1984; National Medical Research Award, National Health Council, 1989; Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Public Service, American Medical Association, 1992; Frank Annunzio Award, 2001; Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, 2002; Ellis Island Family Heritage Award for Medicine and Science, 2003.


Dr. Anthony S. Fauci is one of the best–known members of the American public health establishment and has been at the forefront of the fight against Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) since the 1980s. Honored worldwide for his research, Fauci is a hands–on doctor, and he still sees patients twice a week. Fauci helped change the tenor of AIDS research at a time when AIDS patients and activists felt shut out by the medical establishment. Fauci was singled out by furious activists in the mid–1980s, who blamed him for the government's slowness in reacting to the epidemic. Fauci turned the situation around by meeting with his critics and listening to their complaints. As a result, Fauci is credited with making huge changes in the way public health agencies handle AIDS. He got the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up its approval process for AIDS drugs and to make certain drugs more widely available. He set in place public policies that included the voices of patients and their advocates, setting an unprecedented tone of inclusiveness. He went from villain to hero of the gay community by the end of the 1980s.

As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAIAD), Fauci oversees a budget that grew from $320 million in 1984 to more than $2.4 billion by 2001, while at the same time, deaths in the United States from AIDS dropped precipitously. Since 2001, Fauci has also been one of the top government advisors on bioterrorism. He began working with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson after the 2001 anthrax attacks. He has led the government's preparations for a possible biological weapons attack by speeding up the production of smallpox vaccine.

Fauci was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940, and grew up working in his father's pharmacy. He graduated from Cornell University Medical College in 1966, and then completed a two–year residency at New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center. This was at the height of the Vietnam War, and after his residency Fauci chose to work for the Public Health Service rather than serve as a military doctor. He began working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1968, and spent the rest of his career there. In 1974, he was promoted to head of the Clinical Section, and in 1980, he became Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. Around this time, Fauci began seeing the first reports of an unusual and baffling disease that primarily afflicted gay men: AIDS. Fauci was in on the ground floor of the AIDS epidemic. He met his wife, a nurse, while caring for an AIDS patient. The couple continued to work with infected people even while expecting their first child, though at the time, no one was sure exactly how the disease was transmitted and if health workers were at risk.

In 1984 Fauci was appointed to his present position, head of the NAIAD. He became a prominent name in AIDS research, but his public eminence brought him notoriety. AIDS advocacy groups like ACT UP were convinced that the government was dragging its feet on fighting the epidemic. New medications were slow in coming, and proven treatments were sometimes denied patients who could not qualify for them. The playwright and AIDS advocate Larry Kramer called Fauci a monster. Activists chanted "murderer" throughout one of Fauci's speeches to the New York Academy of Sciences, and at one point Fauci was even hanged in effigy. In 1988 Fauci sat down with one of his virulent critics, a San Francisco AIDS activist who was going blind from an AIDS–related infection. The man explained that a drug existed to treat his eye problem, but that government regulations prevented him from using it.

Fauci was immeasurably moved by the man's dilemma, and from that point he changed his philosophy about dealing with the outspoken AIDS advocates. He met with Kramer and others, he toured gay bathhouses, and he began lobbying the FDA to speed up drug approval. Fauci's actions turned the tide, bringing more money for research, and quieted the raucous criticism of government AIDS policy. When President Bush offered Fauci the top job at the NIH in 1989, Fauci turned it down. He was too involved in AIDS research to give it up for an administrative position. Fauci's research helped pin down our understanding of the way the AIDS virus destroys the body's immune defenses. His research has also shown ways of rebuilding the immune system, and he has contributed to the search for an AIDS vaccine.

Fauci is known as a straight talker, and he has been a useful bridge between the scientific community and the politicians who control the purse strings of public health. He has been very successful at expanding the budget of the NAIAD. About half the agency's budget goes to AIDS research, Fauci's specialty, but he has also persuaded Congress to allocate more money for other problems, such as emerging and unknown infectious diseases. Diseases like ebola, Hanta virus, and SARS are frightening prospects for public health researchers, because there are as yet no vaccines and antibiotics are of limited use. Fauci has also been a sane and somber voice in the dialogue about bioterror. After the anthrax attacks on the United States in 2001, Fauci insisted that more bioterror attacks were inevitable, and the best thing was to be prepared. Fauci prefers that people understand their risk, so that they are frightened enough to act, but not too scared to act wisely. Fauci told U.S. News and World Report in January of 2002: "What I learned from HIV/AIDS was that from the beginning you gotta level with people, you gotta tell them what you don't know, and you've got to explain risks in a way that is realistic without making someone feel better than they should." He has helped prepare the United States for future biological attacks by overseeing the production of smallpox vaccine, channeling money to new vaccine research, and speeding up existing antibioterror projects.


Journal of the American Medical Association, January 17, 1996, p. 173.

Parade, June 8, 2003, p. 5.

Scientist, May 5, 2003, p. 11.

Time, August 20, 2001, pp. 45–46.

U.S. News & World Report, January 28, 2002, p. 32.