Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a welcome presence in our homes as the leading government spokesperson for medical science during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, he has made himself available to nearly all media outlets over the last three weeks. The message he conveys is calm, accurate, and reliable, just as we are accustomed to expect from the very best that U.S. academic medical science produces.
His CV is long and distinguished. After graduating from College of the Holy Cross, he received his MD from Cornell University Medical College in 1966. He then completed an internship and residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. He joined the NIH in 1968 and became the NIAID Director in 1984.
If he looks or sounds familiar, it’s because he’s been delivering the same steady, clear guidance at the forefront of U.S. efforts to combat viral disease outbreaks including HIV, SARS, the 2009 swine flu pandemic, MERS, Ebola, and the new coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). He has served under six presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan and reportedly has turned down offers to head the NIH.
The author or co-author of more than 1,000 publications and multiple editions of four leading textbooks in internal medicine cited here, Dr. Fauci was listed in 2003 by the Institute of Scientific Information (which became Web of Science and is now known as Clarivate Analytics) as the 13th most-cited author among the 2.5-3 million scientists who published articles in scientific journals.
It is Dr. Fauci’s editorial work on books that is most relevant to Doody’s Review Service. He has been on the editorial board of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (HPIM) from the 11th edition on and is currently working with the coeditors on the 21st edition. He also has been on the editorial board of Harrison’s Manual of Medicine, which was launched as a companion to the 15th edition of the main textbook; the editors are working on the 21st edition of this title as well. He has edited four editions of Harrison’s Rheumatology and coedited with Dennis Kasper, MD, three editions of Harrison’s Infectious Diseases – 25 editions of classic textbooks in internal medicine published over the last three decades. In addition, as his publisher at McGraw-Hill, Jim Shanahan, points out, “He was a founding editor of Harrison’s Online in 1998 and AccessMedicine in 2004 and the Spanish language AccessMedicina in 2016. His HPIM chapter on HIV and AIDS, a tour de force of pathophysiology and clinical medicine, is used in many programs as ‘the textbook’ on the disease.”
Shanahan adds this further evaluation of Dr. Fauci’s editorial prowess: “He is the best communicator I have ever worked with. He is straightforward, direct, and evidence-based in all his interactions. As an editor, when he agrees to a plan, he follows it to a T, and the thought of being late with manuscript …would qualify as a nightmare to him. He is deeply respected and personally regarded very highly by his editorial colleagues. He can take a business conversation and break it down into the parts that really matter.”
And, as Shanahan tells it, he even excels at trivial things: “He is a sports fanatic and easily beat me…when I tried to name all of the 1976 Red Sox faster than he could name the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers.”
And, finally, Shanahan offers this perspective on his scientific achievements: “[He] developed a cure for a previously fatal autoimmune disease, polyarteritis nodosa, at a very young age, 35 or so. He turned his attention to HIV and AIDs in the mid-80s and conducted a breathtaking number of studies defining the mechanisms of infection and the associated disorders.”