Dr. Fauci Reads an Undergrad’s Entire Thesis, Then Follows Up with an Encouraging Letter

Pho­to via the Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases 

What are some qual­i­ties to look for in a leader?

  • A thirst for knowl­edge
  • A sense of duty
  • The scru­ples to give cred­it where cred­it is due
  • A calm, clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion style
  • Humil­i­ty

Dr. Antho­ny Fau­ci brings these qual­i­ties to bear as Direc­tor of the Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases at the Nation­al Insti­tute of Health.

They’re also on dis­play in his mes­sage to then-under­grad Luke Mes­sac, now an emer­gency med­i­cine res­i­dent at Brown Uni­ver­si­ty, whose research focus­es on the his­to­ries of health pol­i­cy in south­ern Africa and the US, and who recent­ly tweet­ed:

13 years ago, I emailed Dr. Fau­ci out of the blue to ask if I might inter­view him for my under­grad the­sis. He invit­ed me to his office, where he answered all my ques­tions. When I sent him the the­sis, HE READ THE WHOLE THING (see his over­ly effu­sive review below). Who does that?!

Here’s what Fau­ci had to say to the young sci­en­tist:

It cer­tain­ly reads like the work of a class act.

In addi­tion to serv­ing as one of the COVID-19 pandemic’s most rec­og­niz­able faces, Dr. Fau­ci has acquired anoth­er duty—that of scape­goat for Don­ald Trump, the 6th pres­i­dent he has answered to in his long career.

He seems to be tak­ing the administration’s pot­shots with a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly cool head, though com­pared to the furi­ous crit­i­cisms AIDS activists direct­ed his way in the 80s and 90s, he’s unlike­ly to find much of edu­ca­tion­al val­ue in them.

Last March, The Body Pro, a newslet­ter for work­ers on the front lines of HIV edu­ca­tion, pre­ven­tion, care, and ser­vices quot­ed ACT UP NY’s Jim Eigo on the doctor’s response to a let­ter demand­ing par­al­lel track­ing, a pol­i­cy revi­sion that would put poten­tial­ly life-sav­ing drugs in the hands of those who test­ed pos­i­tive far ear­li­er than the exist­ing clin­i­cal tri­al require­ments’ sched­ule would have allowed:

Lo and behold, he read the let­ter and liked it, and the fol­low­ing year he start­ed pro­mot­ing the idea of a par­al­lel track for AIDS drugs to the FDA. Had he not helped us push that through, we couldn’t have got­ten a lot of the cousin drugs to AZT, such as ddC and ddI, approved so fast. They were prob­lem­at­ic drugs, but with­out them, we couldn’t have kept so many peo­ple alive. 

Fau­ci, despite being straight and Catholic, was not only not homo­pho­bic, which much of med­ical prac­tice still was in the late 1980s, he also wouldn’t tol­er­ate homo­pho­bia among his col­leagues. He knew there was no place for that in a pub­lic-health cri­sis.

Speak­ing of cor­re­spon­dence, Dr Mes­sac seems to have tak­en the “per­pet­u­al stu­dent” con­cept Dr. Fau­ci impressed upon him back in 2007 to heart, as evi­denced by a recent tweet, regard­ing a les­son gleaned from Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger in Pump­ing Iron, a 1977 doc­u­men­tary about body­builders:

Schwarzeneg­ger explained how he would fig­ure out what to work out every day by look­ing in a mir­ror and find­ing his weak­est mus­cles. It’s pret­ty good advice for study­ing dur­ing res­i­den­cy. Every shift reveals a weak­ness, and greats nev­er stop look­ing for their own.

In writ­ing to Mes­sac, Dr. Fau­ci allud­ed to his com­mence­ment speech­es, so we thought it appro­pri­ate to leave you with one of his most recent ones, a vir­tu­al address to the grad­u­at­ing class of his alma mater, Col­lege of the Holy Cross:

“Now is the time, if ever there was one” he tells the Class of 2020, “to care self­less­ly about one anoth­er… Stay safe, and I look for­ward to the good work you will con­tribute in the years ahead.”

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Real Women Talk About Their Careers in Sci­ence

Richard Feynman’s Tech­nique for Learn­ing Some­thing New: An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion

Nov­el­ist Cor­mac McCarthy Gives Writ­ing Advice to Sci­en­tists … and Any­one Who Wants to Write Clear, Com­pelling Prose

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Comments (8)
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  • WW says:

    I was in Spe­cial Op’s for 20 years, and know a leader when I see one. This guy isn’t a “leader”, he’s a self-lick­ing lol­lipop! Where are the Lin­col­n’s and Roo­sevelt’s, out there?

  • Beata says:

    Could you pro­vide a cou­ple of spe­cif­ic rea­sons you believe he is not a leader and a cou­ple of traits you believe
    are need­ed in a leader at this time?

    In my obser­va­tion, Dr. Fau­ci has rou­tine­ly kept the pub­lic informed on recent devel­op­ments and new knowl­edge about Covid; walked a dif­fi­cult line between pol­i­tics and sci­ence; and has in an accept­able way spo­ken truth to pow­er

    You on the oth­er hand have been vague and neg­a­tive with no knowl­edge pro­vid­ed to back up your state­ments. In fact, it is a waste of time to read your com­ment. Work a lit­tle hard­er to learn. It can be real­ly reward­ing.

  • WW says:

    You’re pro­ject­ing. Peo­ple like you give Trump the same treat­ment you described, so get off your high-horse. Look it up your­self, “schol­ar”, the Inter­net is your friend. Fau­ci is try­ing to keep his 15-min­utes of fame for as long as he can, by mov­ing the COVID-goal­posts almost dai­ly. Don’t pre­tend you don’t know what I’m talk­ing about.

  • gwr says:

    Well WW, there are cer­tain­ly no “Lin­colns and Roo­sevelts” (notice how I did­n’t use apos­tro­phes) in the White House right now. And please, dial down your own out­rage — did­n’t they teach you how to main­tain a cool head in “Spe­cial Ops”. Jeesh, what some folks get trig­gered by!

  • Ray Collins says:

    When I was in high school and Fau­ci and his kooks told us all that by the 1990s 20 PERCENT of ALL Amer­i­cans would be dead of AIDS, regard­less of whether they prac­ticed sodomy/copraphagia/IV drug use or not. When I saw him spout­ing off start­ing in Feb­ru­ary, I imme­di­ate­ly knew the entire thing was cut from the same pho­ny cloth.

  • Jeri says:

    Dr. Fau­ci is tru­ly a class act, a leader of the high­est cal­iber. He con­tin­u­al­ly seeks knowl­edge and derives insight from every expe­ri­ence. He has stead­fast­ly fought for bet­ter health­care and makes it his num­ber one mis­sion to do his best to pro­vide health infor­ma­tion to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. He has a strong sense of duty, even when pol­i­tics makes it very dif­fi­cult for him to do his job. He’s hum­ble, he treats oth­ers with respect and fair­ness, and he’s a fight­er. These are the marks of a true leader.

  • Michael Geiger says:

    Many years ago, some­where about 2006, I had read that Tony Fau­ci’s own Mas­ters The­sis was a report of the neg­a­tive effects of stress on the immune sys­tem. As Fau­ci con­tributed great­ly to the world­wide coro­n­avirus pan­ic, and the stress cre­at­ed by it, it is obvi­ous that he has for­got­ten that the­sis. But then again, he for­got about it a very long time ago. By the time Fau­ci reached 43 years of age, and as noth­ing more than a some­what failed MD doc­tor (not schooled in sci­ence), Fau­ci became the head of NIAID in 1984 (just after Robert Gal­lo claimed on the White House steps that he found the cause of AIDS), Fau­ci then seemed to have com­plete­ly for­got­ten every aspect of his own the­sis on stress neg­a­tive­ly impact­ing the immune sys­tem. At the time, gays, hemo­philli­acs, and IV drug users became the cen­tral tar­get of the quite non-spe­cif­ic and “pre­sumed to be” HIV anti­body tests. If reg­is­ter­ing a pos­i­tive on those quite faulty and non-spe­cif­ic tests, peo­ple were put into a com­plete and total state of unend­ing trau­ma and intense stress, as they were told their HIV pos­i­tive diag­no­sis was a death war­rant.

    About this time, Tony Fau­ci also became the lead­ing pro­po­nent of AZT monother­a­py, a failed can­cer drug that stops cells from divid­ing. The years of AZT monother­a­py, from 1985 to 1995, result­ed in about 350,000 Amer­i­cans, men, women, and chil­dren, who direct­ly died from the intense stress of diag­no­sis com­bined with Fau­ci’s AZT ther­a­py, gen­er­al­ly dying in 8 months to 1.5 years. Very few who had reg­u­lar­ly tak­en the drug sur­vived more than 2 years to tell of it. In 1995, the French Con­cord study proved the dead­li­ness of the drug, forc­ing Fau­ci and friends to reduce the dose by 95 per­cent, or to give the diag­nosed less tox­ic drugs. Since AZT end­ed, doc­tors reduced the stress by telling HIV pos­i­tives they could live longer, and so they did, although “buf­fa­lo hump lypodis­tro­phy , liv­er fail­ure, kid­ney fail­ure, heart fail­ure, and can­cer became the lead­ing effects of Fau­ci’s new gen­er­a­tions of drug ther­a­pies. Since 1995, liv­er and kid­ney fail­ure have been the lead­ing cause of deaths of sup­posed HIV pos­i­tives.

    In 1984, Fau­ci promised a vac­cine for the so-called HIV pan­dem­ic that he claimed we would all die from. Now, almost 40 years lat­er, and Fau­ci hav­ing spent sev­er­al tens of bil­lions on cre­at­ing a vac­cine, has result­ed in noth­ing. Zero, zip, nada, noth­ing. Not sur­pris­ing as the RNA believed to be from HIV was obvi­ous­ly an error in belief.

    In about 2009, AP reporters found Fau­ci tak­ing con­flict of inter­est monies along with his reg­u­lar gov­ern­ment pay. One year lat­er, Fau­ci’s wife was made “Head of Ethics” at the NIH, which means any­one want­i­ng to inves­ti­gate Fau­ci’s future con­flicts of inter­est would have to go through his wife. By the way, it is not ille­gal for Fau­ci to own stocks in the com­pa­nies whose drugs he pro­motes. And he has been a great pro­mot­er of all drugs by Gilead Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, espe­cial­ly Gileads HIV drugs (Gilead holds 95% of the HIV drug mar­ket), Tam­i­flu that sup­pos­ed­ly reduces flu by one day (good luck prov­ing or dis­prov­ing that), and the lat­est drug for Covid 19, Gilead­’s Remde­sivir, pro­nounced by Fau­ci to be Stan­dard Of Care in the US after a very short 2 week drug tri­al.

    Dur­ing George Bush (whose own fam­i­ly also owns great amounts of Gilead Stock, Fau­ci pro­mot­ed Gilead­’s Tam­i­flu dur­ing the so called “Bird Flu” pan­dem­ic. Fau­ci stood before con­gress beside Gilead­’s CEO, and con­vinced con­gress to stock­pile the drug, and replace the stock­pile every 3 years due to its expi­ra­tion date. Though, I don’t know if that is as men­tion­able as not­ing that Don­ald Rums­feld, Bush’s Sec. of Defence, was Gilead Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals CEO until the day he joined the Bush cab­i­net. George Schultz, Sec. of State for Rea­gan, and dear friend of the Busch fam­i­ly, sat for many years as a direc­tor on the board of Gilead Phar­ma.

    So here we are again with Coro­n­avirus. Fau­ci makes Remde­sivir stan­dard of care. Claims again he will have anoth­er RNA vac­cine in short order. And 10 years from now, and I promise you. No vac­cine will come. Claims will be made that the CV-19 virus morphs and changes, excus­es and imag­i­nary rea­sons will be claimed to ham­per it, and the world will still be fac­ing the belief that Coro­n­avirus will kill us all unless we throw more bil­lions to NIAID and the phar­ma indus­try eter­nal­ly.

    Either Fau­ci and the NIH learned a lot from HIV on how to manip­u­late fund­ing, or per­haps they learned absolute­ly noth­ing, and remain as igno­rant today as they were 39 years ago when they put Fau­ci, a sim­ple (mind­ed) MD, as talk­ing head of Niaid and the phar­ma indus­try.…

    Good luck to us all, as we humans have ever stum­bled from not know­ing truth from false­hood, from fol­low­ing lead­ers who lacked integri­ty, and from believ­ing what­ev­er those in high office would tell us. Mil­lions upon mil­lions in human his­to­ry have died from fol­low­ing such, and per­haps we always will.

  • Michael Geiger says:

    After your con­sid­er­a­tion of the above, I would also like to add just a cou­ple of things.

    The com­mon­ly heard phrase, “Scared to death”, was coined by us humans many eons ago, and the phrase has stuck with human­i­ty for one sim­ple rea­son. The rea­son being because becom­ing “scared to death” is a sim­ple truth. And it has been as long as mankind has exist­ed.

    Many a human being has been “scared to death” since as long as human beings can remem­ber. Witch doc­tors count on it, as they point a bone and pass a sen­tence of death on a dis­graced trib­al mem­ber. And the believ­ers in the witch doc­tors pro­nounce­ment then soon per­ish from either “acci­dent” or ill­ness. It would seem that what is held in mind has a ten­den­cy to man­i­fest in real­i­ty. The belief in one’s fear obvi­ous­ly cre­ates intense and ongo­ing stress. Stress is well known to cause immune sys­tem fail­ure since for­ev­er. And those giv­en death sen­tences by diag­no­sis of fatal dis­ease by a trust­ed doc­tor are well known to fair very poor­ly.

    With CV19, it seems we have tak­en our most vul­ner­a­ble, the aged among us, and put the scare of inevitable death by coro­n­avirus into them . Such a belief, quite sim­ply, puts a patient into a state of ongo­ing apa­thet­ic help­less­ness and hope­less­ness, at which point their own immune sys­tem sim­ply fails to func­tion. Such is the pow­er of the belief in inevitable death.

    Sad­ly, our med­ical sys­tem and doc­tors are not schooled at all in this (ancient) knowl­edge. Our doc­tors are sim­ply not schooled in patient stress as the lead­ing con­trib­u­tor to out­come, let alone of stress as a cause of immune dys­func­tion and the sub­se­quent fail­ure of patients to over­come an ill­ness.

    Nei­ther is our cul­ture yet schooled in this fac­tor. And so, our med­ical sys­tem, and we our­selves, often con­tin­ue to scare not only our­selves to death, but also our loved ones or our most vul­ner­a­ble patients to death. And most all of our news media appears to thrive upon induc­ing ever more pan­ic and ter­ror and stress as a way to keep their fol­low­ers “tuned in”.

    Before becom­ing diag­nosed, our aged patients, fol­low­ing the news media and their health­care providers pan­ic, then fol­lowed right along. Believ­ing in their own inevitable death by CV19, the aged and vul­ner­a­ble have died in droves, ful­ly stressed, pan­icked, ter­ri­fied, and quite sim­ply, “Scared To Death”.

    After diag­nos­ing their aged patients as CV19, our doc­tors are not in the least re-assur­ing to an aged patient, as the doc­tor and his assis­tants have also bought into the pan­ic and ter­ror filled beliefs of inevitable death of their aged patients.

    With CV19, as they ear­ly on did with their HIV diag­nosed patients, doc­tors and health­care assis­tants treat­ed all CV19 patients from ful­ly enclosed and hood­ed suits, send­ing a clear mes­sage of hope­less­ness and help­less­ness and stress to their patients. The mes­sage to patients was clear: You are going to die. They usu­al­ly even refused patients a vis­it or even a phone call from their loved ones.

    As such, the pan­ic of ter­ror and para­noia result­ing from belief in inevitable death by CV19, or in any­thing else, may be mankind’s great­est threat.

    A quite dead­ly “meme” of a virus, that pass­es a belief of help­less hope­less­ness to the diag­nosed, result­ing in vul­ner­a­ble patients becom­ing quite lit­er­al­ly Scared To Death.

    As such, it like­ly will con­tin­ue to take a great toll upon us and our loved ones until we humans rise above the fear and pan­ic and para­noia, or until we regain aware­ness of how we our­selves play the most mean­ing­ful part in sus­tain­ing our own health and well being, and become cog­nizant of our own effects on oth­ers should we pass them beliefs and mes­sages of hope­less help­less apa­thy to oth­ers.

    In just the last 10 years, since HIV/AIDS qui­et­ed down, Fau­ci’s depart­ment of Niaid, in hand with the CDC and WHO, has released one ter­ror filled pan­ic scare after anoth­er of ter­ror filled pan­icked pro­nounce­ments of anoth­er pan­dem­ic.

    Bird flu(2009), Swine Flu, SARS, MERS, TIKA, H1N1, Ebo­la, and now, CV19 in 10 short years. Each time, they have been reward­ed by con­gress with mil­lions to bil­lions added to their annu­al bud­get. Fau­ci’s NIAID fund­ing has increased in just 10 short years from 1.59 Bil­lion to 5.6 Bil­lion. Many a researcher and phar­ma com­pa­ny pig eat well from that ever grow­ing feed trough. But many a human being will be ful­ly scared to death by future pro­nounce­ments of pan­ic and ter­ror just to con­tin­ue the fund­ing Niaid and the bio-phar­ma bud­gets along the way.…

    Yet, odd­ly enough, our annu­al deaths have only risen beside our increase of pop­u­la­tion. 2,700,000 Amer­i­can’s die year­ly of all caus­es of death. And iatro­genic deaths (mean­ing doc­tor or med­ical sys­tem caused deaths) have remained the 3rd lead­ing cause of death in the US, of just us Amer­i­cans, year after year.

    Per­haps the above mes­sage should be the mes­sage we demand from those run­ning our med­ical and research com­mu­ni­ty, instead of the cur­rent Fau­ci and com­pa­ny mes­sage of “You are all gonna die from the invis­i­ble boogey­man, but give us more mon­ey, and we will cre­ate a mag­ic drug and vac­cine to save you”.

    Save me from what? Scar­ing myself to death? Thanks, but I can do that on my own, and it does not cost me or tax­pay­ers even a dime.…

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