Topline

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday he has no immediate plans to retireafter telling reporters he will probably leave his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—a role he has held for nearly four decades—by the end of President Joe Biden’s current term.

Key Facts

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Fauci, 81, denied having imminent plans to end his career during a Tuesday summit hosted by The Hillsaying that during a wide-ranging interview with Politico published Monday, he only said he “may step down” as NIAID director within the next few years.

When asked by Politico if he would stay on if former President Donald Trump was elected to serve a second term, Fauci said Tuesday he answered that he didn’t intend to be in his current position in January 2025 “whether it’s Donald Trump or it’s Joe Biden’s second term.”

Fauci doesn’t know “where the word retirement came in,” he said jokingly Tuesday, adding that he has not decided when to leave the NIAID.

Crucial Quotes

“What happens between now and [2025] I have not decided, but the one thing I do know is that I have other things that I want to do in a professional way that I want to have the capability [and] while I still have the energy and the passion to do them," Fauci said Tuesday.

Key Background

Fauci has served as NIAID director under every US president since Ronald Reagan. Fauci was first appointed NIAID director in 1984, amid the AIDS crisis, which he had began to study soon after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first case in 1981. Fauci and the medical establishment faced pushback from activists who said the NIAID did not do enough to address the infections that were killing HIV/AIDS patients throughout the 1980s, as well as for exaggerating the risk that contracting the infection posed for most heterosexual Americans. Fauci again became a household name in 2020 with the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which he developed a contentious relationship with former President Donald Trump. Fauci played a key role in Trump's news briefings and on political TV shows during the early part of the pandemic, and then became a target for Republican lawmakers for what they characterized as “moving the goalposts” in terms of ending pandemic restrictions like lockdowns, mandatory masking and vaccine requirements. Fauci also became the center of conspiracy theories, and he and his family have faced death threats. After Biden was elected president in 2020, he appointed Fauci as his chief medical advisor.

Chief Critic

Dr. Fauci said Trump railed against him for making pessimistic statements about the direction in which the country was heading when new infections were increasing. “The president would call me up and say, 'Hey, why aren't you more positive? You've got to take a positive attitude. Why are you so negative? Be more positive,'" Fauci told the New York Times last year. Trump, who aimed to downplay the virus' severity, called Fauci “a disaster” in 2020 and said he would fire him if it wouldn't attract so much negative press. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also traded barbs with Fauci on the Senate floor during hearings and in television appearances over the source of the Covid-19 outbreak and masking.

Surprising Fact

Fauci accepted the NIAID director job on the condition that he could continue his research and clinical practice. “My career and my identity has really been defined by HIV,” Fauci told The Guardian in December 2020.

Fauci: 'I'm not going to retire' (The Hill)

Anthony Fauci wants to put Covid's politicization behind him (politico)

'New disease, no treatment, no cure': how Anthony Fauci's fight against AIDS prepared him for Covid-19 ,The Guardian,