Fauci says he will step down in December

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Monday announced that he plans to step down from his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in December “to pursue the next chapter of my career.”

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Fauci said he will also step down from his position as chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation and as chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

In a statement Monday, Biden thanked Fauci for his decades of public service.

“The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him,” the president said.

Fauci’s announcement came one month after he spurred speculation about his impending retirement, telling The Washington Post that he believed it would be time to step down from his position as head of NIAID “by the time we get to the end of the Biden administration term.” He later clarified that he planned to step down, not retire.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have led the NIAID, an extraordinary institution, for so many years and through so many scientific and public health challenges,” Fauci said Monday. “I am very proud of our many accomplishments.”

He reiterated that he did not plan to retire.

“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,” he said. “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 has headed NIAID since 1984. In his role, he has led research into respiratory infections, malaria, Ebola, Zika and other illnesses. He has recently served as the face of the government’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, Biden said that one of his first calls as president-elect in 2020 went to Fauci to ask the doctor to continue serving as his chief medical adviser.

“In that role, I’ve been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we’ve tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic,” Biden said. “His commitment to the work is unwavering, and he does it with an unparalleled spirit, energy, and scientific integrity.”

Earlier, Fauci served as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under President Donald Trump. As the pandemic went on, he and Trump clashed over his continued health warnings and the former president’s push to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, The Associated Press reported. In recent years, Fauci has contended with political attacks and death threats that have prompted the government to assign him a security detail, according to The Washington Post.

The 81-year-old has advised seven presidents and was a principal architect of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The program has been credited with saving 21 million lives and preventing millions of HIV infections worldwide.