Dr. Anthony Fauci's Esteemed Career in Photos

In 2020, PEOPLE honored the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a Person of the Year for his work in the fight against COVID-19. Reflect on his career as he steps into retirement

01 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci's Legacy

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Fauci during his PEOPLE Magazine photoshoot on Nov. 13. Alexei Hay/foureleven.agency

Dr. Anthony Fauci was one of PEOPLE's four People of the Year in 2020, and for good reason: the Brooklyn-born director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has been a guiding force in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The doctor — who turned 81 on Christmas Eve — calls the moment "the most difficult and devastating infectious disease and respiratory outbreaks that we've experienced in the last 102 years," adding that it's been particularly tough for Americans.

"You have a devastating public health challenge in the midst of a very divisive society, in a very hotly-contested political year. You put all of those ingredients together and it's been quite challenging," he told PEOPLE in 2020.

Here, a look at how Cornell grad Fauci rose to the top of his field.

02 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci's Early Years

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Leif Skoogfors/Corbis/Getty

Fauci, an immunologist, stepped into his role with NIAID in 1984, after joining the National Institues of Health in 1968. The position put him in the spotlight, working alongside President Ronald Reagan on matters of public health.

03 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci's AIDS Research

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Donna F. Aceto

Fauci's breakthroughs as the National Institutes of Health's AIDS coordinator and director of the NIH's Office of AIDS Research put him in the public eye, earning him copious respect in his field and at times, ire from figures like activist Larry Kramer (left, with researcher Mathilde Krim), who wanted him to do more to help.

"He called me a murderer and an incompetent idiot on the front page of the San Francisco Examiner magazine," Fauci recalled to the New York Times earlier this year, later explaining the two came to an understanding about their differences and went on to become close friends.

"I was the face of the federal government. I was the one out there trying to warn the public, and he was, too," he told the Times. "That was his way of saying, 'Hello? Wake up!' "

Fauci's work in the fight against AIDS earned him a spot on PEOPLE's list of the 25 Most Intriguing People of the Year in 1990.

"I'm a scientist, and science is the thing that is immutable," he said at the time. "Do the science correctly, and ultimately you will be doing good for people.''

04 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci and George H.W. Bush

Anthony Fauci, Larry Kramer
Dr. Anthony Fauci in 2001. Alex Wong/Getty

In an April 2020 interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Fauci detailed his relationship with President George H.W. Bush.

"Just by accident I developed a really close friendship with him because he came to the [National Institutes of Health] in the late '80s when he was vice president and was thinking of running for president, and he sincerely wanted to learn about HIV."

"He was a very modest, unbelievable human being. And he came in, he says, 'I want to learn,' " Fauci recalled.

His relationship with the next president, Bill Clinton, "was different," he said. "Clinton had all the right vibes about what to do. I had a good relationship with him, but it was quite formal, as you would have with respect to the presidency."

05 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci and George W. Bush

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In 2008, Fauci was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who cited the doctor's "determined and aggressive efforts to help others live longer and healthier lives." The two worked together on the 2001 anthrax attacks and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which earmarked billions of dollars for AIDS research.

06 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Barack Obama

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Mandel Ngan/Getty

In his CNN interview with Gupta, Fauci called President Barack Obama "a very easy person to get along with and a really good, good human being." Fauci's role in the administration came into play as the world faced devastating Ebola and Zika crises.

07 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Donald Trump

President Trump Meets With Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards At White House
Dr. Anthony Fauci meets with Donald Trump and other officials at the White House on April 29, 2020. Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool/Getty

With President Donald Trump, the focus was on the COVID-19 pandemic as Fauci continued work on the Coronavirus Task Force. And while Trump often made his fluctuating feelings about Fauci public, "I don't want to be pointing fingers at anyone or any administration," Fauci told PEOPLE in 2020. "But as a society we are living in a very divisive state right now. I've never seen the extent of the divisiveness that we have today, which has led to hostility against public health measures. And that makes it much more difficult to address a public health outbreak when everyone needs to pull together."

08 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci and the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Kevin Dietsch/Reuters

Much of Fauci's job for the past two years, he explained to PEOPLE, involved using the media to try and help Americans not only understand the importance of adhering to public health measures (like mask wearing and social distancing), but to give them hope, he says, that "we can turn this around."

09 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci's Wife, Christine Grady

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Alex Wong/Getty

Fauci married Christine Grady, head of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, in 1985. Together, they have three adult daughters, Jennifer, Megan and Alison.

10 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci's Later Years

Ceremonial first pitch is thrown by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Fauci threw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals in July. Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock

Over the past three years, Fauci has watched as his image has appeared on everything from socks to masks and even the nation's top-selling bobblehead.

"It's surrealistic and, in some respects, nice and amusing," he told PEOPLE. "But you can't take that stuff seriously and start to think you're a celebrity. When you start to think that, then you get into trouble. I'm a physician. I'm a scientist. And I'm a public health official."

Nevertheless, in April 2020 he watched as Brad Pitt portrayed him on Saturday Night Live, an event that still makes him chuckle.

"I'm definitely not as good-looking as he is," said Fauci. "But I think he did a great job."

11 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci Gets the COVID Vaccine

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Dr. Anthony Fauci receives Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

In a highly anticipated moment, Fauci received his first dose of the Moderna novel coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 22, 2020, getting his shot on live television just a few days before his 80th birthday.

When asked why he was getting the vaccine, Fauci said, "First, I am an attending physician here on the staff at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and so I do see patients. But, as important or more important, is as a symbol to the rest of the country that I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine."

"I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we can have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic," he added.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci on the Cover of PEOPLE

12/14/2020 cover
Dr. Anthony Fauci.

In a July 2022 interview with Politco, Fauci alluded to stepping down before the next presidential term, a fact PEOPLE confirmed.

When asked what he hopes his legacy will be after he steps away, he pointed to his work on AIDS research, telling Politico that the founding of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which was established while working under President George W. Bush, "may be the most impactful thing I have done in my career."

PEPFAR has helped save 21 million lives, the State Department estimates.

For more with the doctor, watch People of the Year: Dr. Anthony Fauci.

13 of 13

Dr. Anthony Fauci Retires

Dr. Fauci
Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

On Nov. 22, 2022, Fauci gave his final press briefing in Washington, D.C.

"I'll let other people judge the value or not of my accomplishments, but I would like people to remember about what I've done, is that every day for all of those years I've given it everything that I have and I've never left anything on the field," he told reporters, per CNN. "So if they want to remember me, whether they judge rightly or wrongly what I've done, I gave it all I got for a few decades."

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