Dr. Anthony Fauci emerged as something of an unlikely hero in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, having been appointed one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. An immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, Fauci often butts heads with President Donald Trump—who has undermined the severity of the virus since day one—but does so in a way that just manages to toe the line.
Time and time again, Fauci has shown reserve and strength in the face of adversity. And despite the fact that the United States is doing extremely poorly combating COVID-19, given that Fauci is fighting a daily uphill battle you have to wonder where we’d be without him.
As if that wasn’t enough to demonstrate Fauci’s exemplary character, this week an old email the leading immunology expert had sent to a college student surfaced.
Dr. Luke Messac, an emergency medicine resident at Brown University and author of No More to Spend: Neglect and the Construction of Scarcity in Malawi’s History of Health Care, tweeted a photo of that email.
“Thirteen years ago, I emailed Dr. Fauci out of the blue to ask if I might interview him for my undergrad thesis,” wrote Messac. “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?!”
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?! pic.twitter.com/3FIEfSSlXm
— Luke Messac (@LukeMessac) July 16, 2020
Well, Fauci does that, apparently!
The full letter reads as follows:
Luke: Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, but I wanted to fully complete my reading of your thesis before I did. First, it was great to get to meet you and discuss these critical issues with you last summer. Your thesis is absolutely magnificent! I enjoyed it greatly and actually learned something from it. I have now read two Harvard senior theses this year—yours and Jenny’s and I have learned from both. This actually gets to a theme I often weave through commencement addresses; that is, the concept of a “perpetual student.” I continually learn, even from people like yourself and Jenny who are much younger than I. Please keep in mind that you progress in age and experience.
Now, back to your thesis. You masterfully developed that compelling concept of reframing of critical issues for gatekeepers by elite advocates. You also gave considerable credibility to your conclusions by admitting that economic interests and national security certainly played some role in the transformation of USA policy, but not the primary consideration. If you had outright rejected these, you would not have been correct, because as you so well pointed out, there were people who actually believed that these were the reasons why their own views were changing, but they were not the primary gatekeepers.
Your insightful twist about the second version of the Lazurus story is very interesting. I am actually going to mention this to the president next time we discuss HIV/AIDS. I believe he would appreciate this. If you don’t mind, I would like to quote some of your ideas with proper attribution if the opportunity arises in my talks and interviews. I have often hinted at these concepts, but you have added scholarship to them, and so now I feel more comfortable with them.
I could go on and on about the merits of this treatise. Suffice it to say that if I were grading this thesis, I would give it summa cum laude maximus. Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance to you. Good luck in what I know will be a highly successful career.
Most of us live our entire lives without receiving such high praise—which we can only imagine was incredibly well-deserved—and by Dr. Anthony Fauci, no less. And the email went viral, others weighed in to reiterate what an all-around awesome dude Fauci is.
Tony Fauci is not only a great scientist, but also a human being of extraordinary character and integrity. This interchange is stunning. Tony does things like this all the time, with no expectation of any recognition. https://t.co/gGgJYN1cXY
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) July 17, 2020
Qualities of a magnificent leader I see exemplified by this email:
2. Desire for collaboration based on IDEAS, not status
3. Cites sources
4. Proud to mentor and be mentored
5. Seeks solutions, not credit for those solutions
— (@crochetdobbysox) July 16, 2020
This is simply extraordinary. https://t.co/Xz92xFvk49
— Jason Zweig (@jasonzweigwsj) July 17, 2020
What a kind, thoughtful, humble & honorable human being Dr. Fauci is! Imagine being at the top of his field & taking time for a student! Our country needs more like him. We can’t allow those in the WH to defame him b/c he won’t follow the party line…1/2
— A Non-Genius Immigrant (@anongeniusimmi1) July 16, 2020
Dr. Fauci is a fabulous human being, as well as a great doctor. I worked with him on AIDS all through the ’80s and I think the world of him. You can trust him implicitly. https://t.co/1khIA3TzBD
— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) July 17, 2020
Thx! Jesus raises Lazarus from dead in Book of John; “Lazarus effect” refers to AIDS pts after tx. In Book of Luke, Lazarus a beggar who dies at doorstep of rich man, who gave nothing. Lazarus goes to heaven, rich man to Hades. I suggested 2nd story had relevance for the present.
— Luke Messac (@LukeMessac) July 16, 2020
Intelligent, kind, humble … what more can you ask for? Other than a cure, of course, but our man’s probably working on that, as well.
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