Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Monday that he will be stepping down as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) come December.
Fauci, 81, will also vacate his position as President Biden’s chief medical adviser.
“While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring,” the infectious disease expert said in a statement released by the National Institutes of Health. “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 has been head of NIAID since 1984, but only became a nationwide celebrity — and a source of controversy — with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020.
He said it had been an “enormous privilege” to serve under and advise seven US presidents – beginning with Ronald Reagan — on infectious disease threats, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika and COVID-19.
“I am particularly proud to have served as the Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden since the very first day of his administration,” Fauci continued.
Biden heaped praise on his soon-to-be former medical adviser, saying in a statement that the US was stronger and “healthier because of him.”
“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved,” Biden said. “As he leaves his position in the US Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next.
“Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work. I extend my deepest thanks for his public service.”
Fauci did not elaborate on what he plans to do after stepping down as NIAID director, but said he wanted 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.”
He added, “Over the coming months, I will continue to put my full effort, passion and commitment into my current responsibilities, as well as help prepare the Institute for a leadership transition. 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.”