Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has advised seven presidents and spent more than five decades at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, will step down in December to “pursue the next chapter” of his career, he announced Monday.
Fauci, 81, currently serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and is chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.
“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,” Fauci said in a statement posted on the NIAID website.
“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,” Fauci added.
Fauci joined the NIH in 1968 and rose to prominence within the agency during the 1980s AIDS crisis. As an HIV/AIDS researcher, Fauci conducted pivotal studies that formed the basis of medicine’s current understanding of the disease and continue to inform the therapies used to treat and prevent AIDS.
Fauci became NIAID director in 1984, and has advised every U.S. president on infectious disease emergencies from Ronald Reagan onward.
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust Fauci’s career into controversy. President Donald Trump openly floated the idea of firing Fauci, who came under conservative attack for his support of lockdowns, masks and vaccination.
Fauci had considered stepping down after Trump’s departure from the White House, but Biden asked him to remain at his post and help deal with COVID.
“So I stayed on for a year, thinking that at the end of the year, it would be the end of COVID, and as it turned out, you know, that’s not exactly what happened,” Fauci told the New York Times. “And now it’s my second year here, and I just realized that there are things that I want to do.”
In his statement, Fauci pledged to “continue to put my full effort, passion and commitment into my current responsibilities, as well as help prepare the Institute for a leadership transition” in the coming months.
“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,” Fauci said.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more on Dr. Anthony Fauci.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, press release, Aug. 22, 2022; New York Times