Dr. Anthony Fauci: Record And Background

Dr. Anthony Fauci is a key health expert on the coronavirus task force. Learn more about his background and how he's handled past pandemics.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Monday, March 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Monday, March 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Who is Dr. Anthony Fauci?

Appointed the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under Reagan in 1984, Dr. Anthony Fauci is an immunologist who advised that and all subsequent administrations on HIV/AIDS as well as other health crises. Now a vital part of the national response to the novel coronavirus task force, the 79-year-old with a face expressive enough to be featured on popular donuts is a marathon runner-turned-power walker.

A graduate of Cornell University Medical College in 1966, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1968 after his residency at Cornell, rapidly rising to leadership while shaping the field of human immunology. During the handover from President Obama, Fauci attended the meeting with the-then incoming President Trump to brief him and some of his cabinet members on the possibility of a future pandemic and how to address such a threat.

How long has Dr. Anthony Fauci been the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases?

Dr. Anthony Fauci was appointed Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 1984, during the Reagan Administration. Part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Health and Human Services (HHS), according to its website:

“NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For more than 60 years, NIAID research has led to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies that have improved the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world. NIAID is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

After joining NIH in 1968 as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, Fauci ascended the ranks quickly: head of the Clinical Physiology Section in 1977; Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation in 1980; Director of NIAID in 1984. He has retained that position through six presidential administrations.

Fauci helped design the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and became the first director of the Office of Aids Research (OAR) in 1988, when it was established. Under his guidance, NIAID navigated two rounds of H5N1 influenza, West Nile virus, H1N1, Ebola, and other pandemic threats. An eminent authority on human immunology, he broadened understanding of the immune function and extensively influenced the field:

“In a 2019 analysis of Google Scholar citations, Dr. Fauci ranked as the 41st most highly cited researcher of all time. According to the Web of Science, he ranked 8th out of more than 2.2 million authors in the field of immunology by total citation count between 1980 and January 2019.​”

Though tapped to lead the NIH repeatedly, Fauci declined the position. In January of 2017, Fauci, along with others from Health and Human Services, convened with President-elect Trump to run through the future possibility of a pandemic as a national threat to the United States. Despite this warning, Trump disbanded the NSC pandemic unit in May of 2018.

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How has Dr. Anthony Fauci handled past epidemics and pandemics?

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s first major outbreak; it is not even his first major novel coronavirus outbreak. Starting with the newly-discovered human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1984, Fauci has guided America through a number of health threats, learning from each to apply to the next.

HIV/AIDS (Reagan Administration)

First identified in the early 1980s with a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) article in June of 1981, AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, the disease caused by HIV) was both an epidemic and a political flashpoint as many blamed lifestyle for illness, including current CDC director Robert R. Redfield. Fauci became the first director of OAR in 1988; in 1989 Fauci advocated for access to experimental treatments for HIV people who were not in clinical trials. More than $1 billion was allocated in funding for research in HIV/AIDS by the end of George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

Slow initial response to HIV/AIDS allowed greater spread, and to date, 40 million people have died of the virus. Fauci’s work includes studying how HIV attacks the immune system, which helped to create effective treatments for people living with HIV. He envisions ending the HIV epidemic entirely and has a plan to do so, aiming for a 75% reduction by 2025, and 90% by 2030.

H5N1/Avian Influenza; West Nile Virus; Antimicrobial Resistance (Clinton Administration)

While highly infectious in poultry, H5N1 or Avian Influenza does not transmit easily to humans. The U.S. saw its first case of West Nile Virus which was previously active in the Americas, and the NIH identified a new emerging threat, antimicrobial resistance, which includes bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Dr. Fauci on these new challenges:

“NIH continued the development and testing of medical countermeasures, as a first step to an effective response strategy to each of these emerging public health threats.”

Threat of Bioterrorism; SARS; H5N1 (George W. Bush Administration)

After 9/11, anthrax on letters sent to senators, journalists and others sickened 22 people, killing 5. These terrorism events prompted funding and the creation of the “Strategic Plan for Biodefense Research” as well as the “NIAID Biodefense Research Agenda for CDC Category A Agent” under the directorship of Fauci. These measures also addressed concerns of biological agents held by the former Soviet Union.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), an earlier novel coronavirus, caused an international pandemic of 8096 cases and 774 deaths. Early identification, isolation, and protective equipment worn by healthcare providers helped to contain the spread. NIAID also quickly developed a preclinical vaccine which was not needed due to the effectiveness of the public health measures.

A re-emergence of H5N1 prompted the “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza,” and NIAID helped create vaccine candidates.

H1N1; Chikungunya; Ebola; Zika (Obama Administration)

Hitting in April 2009, H1N1 underscored the need to more quickly create and manufacture vaccines in response to new viral threats. Though NIAID worked rapidly, H1N1 peaked before the vaccine became available. Building on that knowledge, NIAID used experts from various disciplines to work on a “universal” flu vaccine.

Putting the concept of a base that can be applied elsewhere to work, NIAID quickly developed a vaccine for Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that causes fever, joint pain, muscle pain, and other symptoms. The vaccine was expected to enter Phase III trials this year.

An outbreak of Ebola in the capital cities of West Africa led to the first case on U.S. soil in 2014, and Fauci’s NIAID provided direct care to two of the U.S. patients in addition to educating the US on Ebola, its treatment, and its transmission. The US saw a total of 11 cases and 2 deaths. More on the handling of Ebola under Obama here.

In fighting Zika, a flavivirus found to affect fetal development as well as creating serious issues in adults, including Guillain–Barré syndrome and encephalitis, the NIH used the platform approach previously suggested for influenza, creating a vaccine from one made for West Nile. This technique led to human trials in a record 3 to 4 months, and vaccines are now undergoing clinical trials.

What presidents has Dr. Anthony Fauci advised?

With his NIAID directorship spanning five decades, Fauci’s expertise guided Republicans and Democrats. Acting without partisanship, the health of the nation and effective leadership underscore Fauci’s tenure. Fauci has advised:

  • Ronald Reagan
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Bill Clinton
  • George W. Bush
  • Barack Obama
  • Donald Trump

Personal details and contact information

  • Age: 79
  • Birthday: December 24, 1940
  • Religion: Catholic
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, New York, NY
  • Education: Regis High School, College of the Holy Cross, Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Spouse: Christine Grady
  • Twitter: @NIAIDNews
  • Phone: 301-496-2263
  • Email: [email protected]

The Rantt Rundown

Healthcare superstar Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised presidents on the management of infectious diseases dating all the way back to his appointment as Director of NIAID in 1984 under Ronald Reagan. An immunologist, Fauci started his career at the NIH 1968, and though his meteoric rise included several offers to head the NIH, he repeatedly turned them down. Steering NIAID through other outbreaks like H1N1, Zika, and Ebola, Fauci was among the team who briefed the incoming Trump Administration on the risk of future pandemics. Now key in the US response to the novel coronavirus global outbreak, Fauci’s past history of building on knowledge gleaned from earlier epidemics could prove vital to containing the pandemic, if only the Trump Administration would rely upon it.

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Rantt 101 // Coronavirus / Dr. Fauci / Health / Science