Fauci, Anthony S. (1940- ) (World of Microbiology and Immunology)
Early in his career, Anthony S. Fauci carried out both basic and clinical research in immunology and infectious diseases. Since 1981, Fauci's research has been focused on the mechanisms of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). His work has lead to breakthroughs in understanding the virus's progress, especially during the latency period between infection and fulminant AIDS. As director of both the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Fauci is involved with much of the AIDS research performed in the United States and is responsible for supervising the investigation of the disease mechanism and the development of vaccines and drug therapy.
Anthony Stephen Fauci was born on December 24, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York, to Stephen A. Fauci, a pharmacist, and Eugenia A. Fauci, a homemaker. He attended a Jesuit high school in Manhattan where he had a successful academic and athletic career. After high school, Fauci entered Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, as a premedical student, graduating with a B.A. in 1962. He then attended Cornell University Medical School, from which he received his medical degree in 1966, and where he completed both his internship and residency.
In 1968, Fauci became a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation of NIAID, one of the eleven institutes that comprise the NIH. Except for one year spent at the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center as chief resident, he has remained at the NIH throughout his career. His earliest studies focused on the functioning of the human immune system and how infectious diseases impact the system. As a senior staff fellow at NIAID, Fauci and two other researchers delineated the mechanism of Wegener's granulomatosis, a relatively rare and fatal immune disease involving the inflammation of blood vessels and organs. By 1971, Fauci had developed a drug regimen for Wegener's granulomatosis that is 95% percent effective. He also found effective treatments for lymphomatoid granulomatosis and polyarteritis nodosa, two other immune diseases.
In 1972, Fauci became a senior investigator at NIAID and two years later he was named head of the Clinical Physiology Section. In 1977, Fauci was appointed deputy clinical director of NIAID. Fauci shifted the focus of the Laboratory of Clinical Infection at NIAID towards investigating the nature of AIDS in the early 1980s. It was in Fauci's lab the type of defect that occurs in the T4 helper cells (the immune cells) and enables AIDS to be fatal was demonstrated. Fauci also orchestrated early therapeutic techniques, including bone-marrow transplants, in an attempt to save AIDS patients. In 1984, Fauci became the director of NIAID, and the following year the coordinator of all AIDS research at NIH. He has worked not only against the disease but also against governmental indifference to AIDS, winning larger and larger budgets for AIDS research. When the Office of AIDS Research at NIH was founded in 1988, Fauci was made director; he also decided to remain the director of NIAID. Fauci and his research teams have developed a three-fold battle plan against AIDS: researching the mechanism of HIV, developing and testing drug therapies, and creating an AIDS vaccine.
In 1993, Fauci and his team at NIH disproved the theory that HIV remains dormant for approximately ten years after the initial infection, showing instead that the virus attacks the lymph nodes and reproduces itself in white blood cells known as CD4 cells. This discovery could lead to new and radical approaches in the early treatment of HIV-positive patients. Earlier discoveries that Fauci and his lab are responsible for include the 1987 finding that a protein substance known as cytokine may be responsible for triggering full-blown AIDS and the realization that the macrophage, a type of immune system cell, is the virus's means of transmission. Fauci demonstrated that HIV actually hides from the body's immune system in these macrophages and is thus more easily transmitted. In an interview with Dennis L. Breo published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Fauci summed up his research to date: "We've learned that AIDS is a multiphasic, multifactorial disease of overlapping phases, progressing from infection to viral replication to chronic smoldering disease to profound depression of the immune system."
In drug therapy work, Fauci and his laboratory have run hundreds of clinical tests on medications such as azidothymidine (AZT), and Fauci has pushed for the early use of such drugs by terminally ill AIDS patients. Though no completely effective antiviral drug yet exists, drug therapies have been developed that can prolong the life of AIDS victims. Potential AIDS vaccines are still being investigated, a process complicated by the difficulty of conducting possible clinical trials, and the fact that animals do not develop AIDS as humans do, which further limits available research subjects. No viable vaccine is expected before the year 2005.
As chief government infectious disease specialist, Fauci was presented with an immediate public health challenge in October, 2001ioterrorism. Coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control, Fauci directed the effort to not only contain the outbreak of anthrax resulting from Bacillus anthracisontaminated letters mailed to United States Post Offices, but also to initiate the necessary research to manage the continuing threat of the disease. Fauci also labeled smallpox as a logical bioterrorism agent, and has concentrated his efforts to ensure an available adequate supply of smallpox vaccine in the U.S.
Fauci married Christine Grady, a clinical nurse and medical ethicist, in 1985. The couple has three daughters. Fauci is an avid jogger, a former marathon runner, and enjoys fishing. Widely recognized for his research, he is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including a 1979 Arthur S. Flemming Award, the 1984 U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal, the 1989 National Medical Research Award from the National Health Council, and the 1992 Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Public Service from the American Medical Association. Fauci is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds a number of honorary degrees. He is the author or coauthor of over 800 scientific articles, and has edited several medical textbooks.
See also AIDS, recent advances in research and treatment; Anthrax, terrorist use of as a biological weapon; Bioterrorism, protective measures; Epidemiology, tracking diseases with technology; Infection and resistance