Anthony Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is an immunologist who has made substantial contributions to research on AIDS and other immunodeficiencies. He has pioneered the field of human immunoregulation and developed effective therapies for formally fatal inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. In the field of AIDS research, he has helped contribute to an understanding of how the AIDS virus destroys the body's defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections.
He has also served as an editor of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine and has authored, coauthored or edited more than 1,100 scientific publications, including several textbooks. Dr. Fauci is a key advisor to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and public health protections against emerging infectious disease threats, such as pandemic influenza. He was educated at Cornell University Medical College and holds 32 honorary doctorate degrees.
Question: What inspires you?
Anthony Fauci: It’s that driving force of public service.
I know that there are many, many professions and avocations that people can have. Many of them are very noble and very worthy.
For myself personally, I’m driven by this whole issue of public service and being able to do things that will ultimately help people. In my specific arena, that happens to be health. But there are many public servants who help people in many other ways. Mine happens to be in health.
And the idea that I can marshal my energies, and whatever talent or intellect that I have to drive myself towards being a public servant and making a contribution that will be lasting in the arena of public health is really the fuel for my engine. It just keeps me going.
I enjoy very much communication. I think that scientists need to communicate. The field of science needs to communicate with the general public, because the ultimate goal of science is to do good, to gain knowledge, to understand and discover things that are ultimately for the good of mankind.
One of the things that we don’t necessarily do very well all the time is communicating in language that people can understand the importance of science, and scientific advances, and what they might mean to people. So although that isn’t a scientific talent or something that has to do with your scientific capability, I find that I enjoy that. It’s relatively easy for me.
And I know that when you do communicate the importance of science to people, that will energize them to support science even more than we support it. Because science is one of the most important things that we can support in our society.
There are a number of people in different arenas that I see and I say, “Wow. That person is really somebody very special.” When you think in terms of public service, I heard so much about what Mother Theresa had done in her life. And I was fortunate enough to get a chance to meet her and talk to her a lot about what motivates her and what drives her. And that, to me, is a person that really is an extraordinary role model.
So I would say that that is one person among many relatively unsung people who I think really have done and are doing a terrific job.
Recorded On: July 6, 2007