I don’t know about you, but when I watch the White House’s daily coronavirus briefings, it’s with a finger on the mute button. When Trump is speaking, I hit mute. When Dr. Fauci speaks, I unmute. Suffering through Trump’s word salad is terrible for my mental health, and in general I prefer my information to be dispensed in a logical, facts-based manner. So my listening preferences are a matter of self-preservation.
But Dr. Fauci is more than just a calm, measured voice stepping in to organize and clarify the ill-informed, narcissistic, self-agrandizing ramblings of President Trump. He’s also one of the smartest humans alive, probably has more energy than any human who ever lived, and in general is a smashing success of a human being. Here are ten things you may not have known about this incredible individual:
1. He power walks five miles per day, every day, at lunchtime. Or rather, he used to. And before power walking, it was running. His running buddy, Mike Goldrich, the NIAID’s former chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal that he and Dr. Fauci ran every day regardless of weather — “Ice. Snow. Rain. Heat. We were big fans of Gore-Tex.” Apparently, there is only one thing that can get this 79-year-old to put his daily exercise outings on pause — a pandemic.
2. Those runs are child’s play compared to the marathons Dr. Fauci has completed. He ran his personal best in 1984 at the Marine Corps Marathon, with a time of 3:37. In 1990 he ran the same marathon again with a time of 3:52. Could this man BE more dependable?
3. He was the captain of Regis High School’s basketball team back 1958, when they called him “Fauch.” He even led his team to a huge upset after a year of losses, a feat that members of that team still remember fondly to this day.
4. He has served under six U.S. presidents, leading the NIAID (The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) since 1984, doing important work in the decades since on HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus, SARS and Ebola.
5. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 for his contribution in advancing the understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
6. He’s not afraid to disagree with Trump. It’s well-known that Trump fires people who disagree with him. Somehow Dr. Fauci manages to escape Trump’s ire even though he regularly contradicts him. Probably because there would likely be actual riots if Trump tried to fire Fauci. Though, to be clear, right-wing media is already targeting Dr. Fauci, trying to discredit him by popularizing conspiracy theories that he’s deliberately trying to undermine Trump’s popularity. A New York Times analysis found that over 70 Twitter accounts promoted the hashtag #FauciFraud, some tweeting up to 795 times per day.
7. He’s not afraid to address social inequities. In Michigan, black Americans comprise 35 percent of COVID-19 cases even though they represent only 14.1 percent of the overall population. Dr. Fauci recalled how, during his work in the ‘80s on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there was “extraordinary stigma, particularly against the gay community.” He said he sees some similarities between then in now, in that the COVID-19 crisis is “shining a bright light on how acceptable that is, because yet again, when you have a situation like the coronavirus, [minorities] are suffering disproportionately.”
8. He’s married to a badass. Dr. Christine Grady, Dr. Fauci’s wife of 35 years, is chief of the Department of Bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center. She’s published 175 papers in the biomedical and bioethics literature and authored or edited several books, including The Oxford Textbook of Clinical Research Ethics. NBD.
9. Way back in 1988, Dr. Fauci was praised by former President George HW Bush during a presidential debate. During the debate, between then-Vice President Bush and Michael Dukakis, the candidates were each asked who they thought were heroes and who young Americans should aspire to be like. Bush lauded Dr. Fauci for his work in HIV/AIDS research. “You’ve probably never heard of him,” he said. “He’s a very fine researcher, top doctor at National Institute of Health, working hard at doing something — research on this disease of AIDS.”
1988: @AnnCompton asks Bush & Dukakis who their heroes are, "point out to young Americans as figures who should inspire this country?"
Bush: "Fauci …top doctor at NIH, working hard doing something about research on this disease of AIDS" @HowardMortmanpic.twitter.com/tyDPRNuFcJ
— David I. Ramadan (@DavidIRamadan) March 21, 2020
10. He is prolific AF. Dr. Fauci has edited, authored, and co-authored more than 1,000 scientific publications. According to the NIH, he has 32 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities around the world. “He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine (Council Member), the American Philosophical Society, and the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters, as well as a number of other professional societies including the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.” And, as if that weren’t enough, according to Science Watch, from 1983 to 2002, Fauci was the 13th-most cited scientist in the world.
In short, Dr. Fauci is the bright light in these uncertain, scary times, the voice of reason we turn to when we need a dose of truth, common sense, and hope.