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 is your outlook?
Anthony Fauci: I’m a born, cautious optimist. So the answer to your question is, I am optimistic.
I’m optimistic about how we’re going to be able to handle the diseases that we have now, namely HIV and the global health issues of the developing world. And I’m optimistic that we’re going to be able to be prepared enough for new challenges that come along. Because there is a perpetual challenge, these possibilities of emerging and re-emerging new infections. And I’m also optimistic that we will see our way to getting the people – of this country [USA], at least – to be covered so that they don’t have to worry about health, and getting sick, and not having the wherewithal to be taken care of.
Well the most pressing ethical question is to make sure that everything you do from a scientific standpoint is done for the ultimate good and positive issue for the people that you’re caring about.
The idea of a discovery for some self-aggrandizing reason that could have a potential negative impact by its very nature needs to be struck down.
So we need to be guided by firm ethical principles in what we do in every area of life, not just in medicine and in health. But in health, and medicine, and science, it’s even more imperative because you unleash the forces of science. And if you don’t have an ethical handle on what you’re doing, the potential damage can be enormous.
Recorded On: July 6, 2007