How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I’m celebrating my birthday at home with my wife. I normally — tradition since my children were born, and they’re adult young women now, three girls — we used to traditionally have a birthday celebration of my wife and my three daughters would go over to my sister’s house, who lives in Alexandria, and have a birthday party on Christmas Eve. And we’ve done that literally for more than 40 years, I’ve done that, and since my children were born over the last 35 or so years. And unfortunately we’re not going to do that this year.
The situation of not wanting to travel and trying to abide by the public recommendations that I myself are giving to the American public — to avoid travel and to avoid congregate settings. So I’m going to spend it in a quiet dinner with my wife in my home, and Zoom in my daughters, who are in three separate cities — San Francisco, New Orleans and Boston. So we’re going to have a quiet dinner, we’re going to sort of celebrate me and toast me with a little prosecco through Zoom. That’s not optimal, but it’s better than nothing.”
How did you get your start in your career? “It depends what you mean by ‘my career.’ Because my fundamental basic identity is I’m a physician. I went to medical school, I did multiple years of internal medicine training and then I did a fellowship at the NIH in infectious diseases and immunology, a combined fellowship. So I guess that you can say if there was a turning point in the career path that I took, it was after I came down to NIH for three years, I had to make a decision whether I wanted to stay in research or go into the practice of medicine and only do clinical medicine and teaching. And I made that decision at the end of my third year as a fellow here in Bethesda at the NIH. I went back to the place where I did all of my prior training in medicine at the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center. And I did that for a year as the chief medical resident.
And then at the end of the year I had to make a major decision: Should I go back to the NIH and pursue a career in research that ultimately led to where I am now as the director of the institute, being involved in a variety of things; or, should I stay in New York and do clinical medicine mostly in a hospital setting. So that year I made the decision to come back [to the NIH] and then from then a variety of things occurred that influenced my career, but I think the real turning point of the career was my decision to stay at the NIH as opposed to going back and being a clinical practitioner predominantly as opposed to a researcher.”
What’s an interesting book/article you’re reading during coronavirus social distancing? And why? “I have to tell you, I have been so knee-deep and steeped in response to this outbreak that the only article that I think I could have read that was an important article were scientific articles that have to do with this outbreak.”
What are you watching for in the Biden presidency? “You know, I’m watching for what I would hope would be a marked diminution of the divisiveness in our country and in society. Of course, I have been really saddened as a physician, scientist and public health official that we’ve had to operate in an environment of divisiveness that I hope that the characteristic of President-elect Joe Biden of being someone who’s had really good experience over his multi-decade career of reaching across the aisle and collaborating with member of the opposite party to get things done. I hope that during the next administration we get much more collegiality across the aisles of political divide as opposed to the divisiveness that we see right now.”
What’s a fun fact that people in Washington might not know about you? “That, before I got too busy, I used to love to dance, particularly with my wife. So, nobody knows that Tony Fauci really likes to dance, but I do. Just go back to the 50s and the 60s, Lindy type of dances, and actually my wife is very good in Latin-American dances, you know mambo, tango, that kind of thing.”