Dr. Anthony Fauci: Beyond the Limits of Science

Our next Chief Medical Advisor in the eyes of senior leadership from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

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Ryan Ahmed

Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on the front cover of ‘TIME magazine’ in 2020, after he was placed on their list, ‘The 100 Most Influential People,’ for his leadership in the pandemic-era world.

When we envision a hero, we might come across the narrative of the mighty Saint George or the righteous Sir William Marshal, venturing across their land, dressed in shining plated armor on a stallion, taking on the legacy of a dragon-slaying martyr. In actuality, a hero does not need to be an individual of prowess with a lance, sword and mace, or with any superhuman abilities. 

Heroes are individuals who demonstrate leadership, courage, and moral brilliance, while rising above difficult conditions and obstacles. They devote their existence to the livelihoods and wellbeing of others. If the villains and obstacles in our modern society do not have super-human strength or breathe fire, the question of who would be the great knight of our time, within the status quo, is an essential one. To figure out one of the best examples of a hero in our world, we need to look for our biggest villains and our largest societal obstacles. 

The monstrous Coronavirus pandemic was officially declared as a global pandemic on March 11th, 2020 by the World Health Organization. For the past eleven months and counting, the COVID-19 virus has managed to cause widespread illness, economic hardship, and death, for the daily lives of billions around the world who had never seen a virus of this magnitude in their lifetimes. It has shut down economies and has left people in virtually every corner of the world infected in high numbers. With the numerous  public health issues that we are facing today, the scientists in our world, who are working day and night are our true heroes.

Standing at 5 feet and 6 inches, a major hero in our world is a 79-year old physician named Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. As he stands in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and before the eyes of our nation’s people in times of crisis, this doctor proves that height and age does not measure a man, nor does it measure the capability of heroism. 

“Many people go into medicine out of a desire to help others – whether it is a single individual under their care or the general population in the setting of a pandemic,” said Dr. Clifford Lane M.D., the NIAID Deputy Director of Clinical Research at NIAID, and Dr. Fauci does just that. As he has always put public health over political interests and his own sleep schedule, it makes him the perfect fit to lead us in this pandemic-era world and to become the nation’s next Chief Medical Advisor in the upcoming Presidential administration of Joseph Biden. 

Dr. John J. McGowan (top) was nicknamed “J.J.” by Dr. Fauci in the early days of the NIAID, as both of their careers revolved around growing the NIAID institute in order to build a structure to empower science in order to save lives. Here is a screenshot of my Zoom interview for this article, with Dr. McGowan. (Ryan Ahmed)

After being appointed as the Director of NIAID in 1984, Dr. Fauci has done notable work in advising six U.S. presidents on infectious outbreaks such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, Zika, and the Swine flu. Having become both friends and colleagues of Dr. Fauci back in 1986, Dr. John J. McGowan, the Deputy Director of Science Management, has worked side by side with the NIAID director for decades building up the NIAID institute from the ground up with their vision. This was because “‘Tony’ lives on principles that he developed early-on, which is to talk truth to power, and to be able to help grow your people and organizations by challenging them and asking critical questions,” said Dr. McGowan to me during an interview that I conducted with him over Zoom. 

Dr. McGowan continued our discussion by noting that Dr. Fauci is an inspiration to many. “The traits that he had were traits I picked up in my own career that helped me move up through the organization and in helping the institute to run more effectively. This includes his ability to stay focused, to set expectations, to empower others, and to capture visions and spirit, and then to provide resources and guidance to help others innovate in science. This has definitely worked for me and others underneath me in the organization.”

Dr. McGowan also noted that “the main motivation forces for ‘Tony’ and scientists around the world are our own desire to help do things. And value for me, at least, comes from achieving things that help people, whether that is one person or that is a structure that goes on to help many.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s work, alongside Dr. McGowan and the entirety of the NIAID, has essentially saved the lives of millions already. This includes efforts for years before the current Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, as Fauci and the NIAID were a major contributor to the President’s Emergency Plan for an AIDS Relief program. In addition, the NIAID has made many advances in science research over the past few decades that have enabled people to live  healthier lives across the world. 

With approval ratings of over 70% from both registered Republicans and Democrats throughout his current job leading the fight against COVID-19 and keeping the public safe, Dr. Anthony Fauci has worked on both sides of the table and has earned the title of “America’s Doctor” in millions of households. He has “precision of thought; clarity of expression always being sure of the question being asked, getting to the bottom of an issue as quickly as possible, while not taking things personally,” said Dr. Clifford Lane M.D. who is in Senior Leadership at NIAID along with Dr. Fauci. Thus, Dr. Fauci provides families with some much needed stability and level headedness as we all fight to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. 

The Deputy Associate Director for Policy and Strategy at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ms. Laurie Ishak, agrees with that, as she said, “It is important to the scientists at CDC, as with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where Dr. Anthony Fauci serves, that we use the most reliable and available data to inform and protect the public. Working 24/7 to protect America’s health, safety and security is the CDC mission that motivates our scientists fighting infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, or the chronic and acute diseases that affect our communities.” 

As a voluntary member of the current Coronavirus task force of the current administration, Dr. Fauci believes that the actions of the government should be guided. Over the past ten months, Dr. Fauci routinely (softly) revised the half-truths of Donald Trump regarding COVID-19, during White House briefings. 

Dr. Clifford Lane (left) finds inspiration from Dr. Fauci (center) for his precision of thought and his abilities of being sure of the questions being asked of him, while not taking things personally. (Courtesy of the NIAID)

“By providing straight answers, acknowledging where there are gaps in our knowledge and by altering the messaging in a transparent way as new facts emerge, Dr. Fauci has become the go-to source for authentic information,” said Dr. Clifford Lane. Some of these examples include: “No, there is no evidential proof of a ‘miracle’ cure or prevention of Coronavirus by taking hydroxychloroquine,” as well as, “no, the death toll is definitely real.” For many weeks when President Trump insisted on denying the government’s inability to supply virus test kits on a widespread level, Dr. Fauci put it clearly: “That’s a failing. Let’s admit it.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci believes in quality of evidence and data over all other considerations, which puts him in such a profound position of leadership. Heroes like Dr. Fauci are at the forefront of the fight to informing the public and to leading scientific developments that allows for people to be safe. The works of our NIAID scientists protect people and improve lives, and these are the heroes we must listen to in times of public health crises. Thus, celebrating modern-day scientists like Dr. Fauci and many others, is a celebration of information, innovation, and a better world to come.

“The main motivation forces for ‘Tony’ and scientists around the world are our own desire to help do things. And value for me, at least, comes from achieving things that help people, whether that is one person or that is a structure that goes on to help many,” said Dr. John McGowan, the Deputy Director of Science Management at NIAID.

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