Washington — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s preeminent infectious disease expert who has served under seven presidents, said Monday that he will step down from his post in December to pursue the “next chapter” of his career.
“I am announcing today that I will be stepping down from the positions of Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, as well as the position of Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden,” Fauci said in a statement.
He emerged as a household name at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, appearing at daily White House briefings to deliver sober updates about the deadly spread of the coronavirus. That role frequently put him at odds with former President Donald Trump, who went to great lengths to downplay the severity of the crisis, and other Republicans who heavily criticized him for pushing strict mitigation measures and accused him of trying to harm Trump politically.
Fauci was largely sidelined from the federal government’s public messaging about the pandemic by the end of the Trump administration, but regained influence when President Biden tapped him as his chief medical adviser upon taking office in January 2021.
In a statement coinciding with Fauci’s own announcement on Monday, the president thanked Fauci for his years of government service, calling him a “dedicated public servant, and a steady hand with wisdom and insight honed over decades at the forefront of some of our most dangerous and challenging public health crises.”
“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved,” Mr. Biden said. “As he leaves his position in the U.S. Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next.”
Fauci said he is not retiring, and instead plans to “pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field.” He signaled in July that he would likely step down before the next presidential election.
“My time is running out. I’m 81 years old,” Fauci said in an interview with an Australian radio station. He added that, by 2024, “it is unlikely that I will still be at this job no matter who gets to be president of the United States.”
In the spring, Fauci said he intended to step down only after the worse of the pandemic had subsided.
“I’ve always said we’ve got to get this thing under control. I’m obviously 81 years old, at the point in my career where I’m going to have to sit down at some time,” Fauci told CBS News’ “Red & Blue” in April. “But I would want it to be when we get this under better control. And we may be coming to that point right now. We may be closer to that now.”