Jan. 30, 2023 – When he was a young boy growing up in Brooklyn, Anthony Fauci loved playing sports. As captain of his high school basketball team, he wanted to be an athlete, but at 5-foot-7, he says it wasn’t in the cards. So, he decided to become a doctor instead.
Fauci, who turned 82 in December, stepped down as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that same month, leaving behind a high-profile career in government spanning more than half a century, during which he counseled seven presidents, including Joe Biden. Fauci worked at the National Institutes of Health for 54 years and served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 38 years. In an interview last week, he spoke to WebMD about his career and his plans for the future.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
It’s only been a few weeks since your official “retirement,” but what’s next for you?
What’s next for me is certainly not classical retirement. I have probably a few more years of being as active, vigorous, passionate about my field of public health, public service in the arena of infectious diseases and immunology. [I’ve] had the privilege of advising seven presidents of the United States in areas that are fundamentally cantered around our response and preparation for emerging infections going back to the early years of HIV, pandemic flu, bird flu, Ebola, Zika, and now, most recently the last 3 years, with COVID. What I want to do in the next few years, by writing, by lecturing, and by serving in a senior advisory role, is to hopefully inspire young people to go into the field of medicine and science, and perhaps even to consider going into the area of public service.
Almost certainly, I’ll begin working on a memoir. So that’s what I’d like to do over the next few years.
Are you looking forward to going back and seeing patients and being out of the public eye?
I will almost certainly associate myself with a medical center, either one locally here in the Washington, DC, area or some of the other medical centers that have expressed an interest in my joining the faculty. I am not going to dissociate myself from clinical medicine, since clinical medicine is such an important part of my identity and has been thus literally for well over 50 years. So, I’m not exactly sure of the venue in which I will do that, but I certainly will have some connection with clinical medicine.
What are you looking forward to most about going back to doctoring?
Well, I’ve always had a great deal of attraction to the concept of medicine, the application of medicine. I have taken care of thousands of patients in my long career. I spent a considerable amount of time in the early years of HIV, even before we knew it was HIV, taking care of desperately ill patients. I’ve been involved in a number of clinical research projects, and I was always fascinated by that because there’s much gratification and good feeling you get when you take care of, personally, an individual patient, when you do research that advances the field, and those advances that you may have been a part of benefit larger numbers of patients that are being taken care of by other physicians throughout the country and perhaps even throughout the world.