Dr. Anthony Fauci – the government's top infectious disease expert – said he "can't stay at this job forever," hinting that he could retire from his position that he has held for nearly 40 years.
During a Friday appearance on ABC's "Start Here" podcast, host Brad Mielke asked Fauci about his future plans.
The 81-year-old chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden responded, "I have said that I would stay in what I'm doing until we get out of the pandemic phase, and I think we might be there already, if we can stay in this."
"I can't stay at this job forever. Unless my staff is going to find me slumped over my desk one day. I'd rather not do that," Dr. Fauci added.
"I, unfortunately, am somewhat of a unidimensional physician-scientist-public health person. When I do decide I'm going to step down — whenever that is — I'm going to have to figure out what I'm going to do," Fauci said. "I'd love to spend more time with my wife and family, that would be nice."
Fauci began his career at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1968. In 1984, Fauci became the director of the NIAID under then-President Ronald Reagan.
The NIAID biography for Fauci reads:
He oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. The NIAID budget for fiscal year 2021 is an estimated $6.1 billion.
In January 2020, Fauci was named as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under then-President Donald Trump.
However, not everyone has been enthralled with Fauci leading the COVID-19 pandemic response. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been one of Fauci's toughest critics, and the two have had clashes during several congressional hearings.
In one fiery exchange, Paul accused Fauci of lying about gain-of-function research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Paul has said if left unchecked, Fauci could "easily become a medical dictator."
This week, the Republican Senator from Kentucky proposed an amendment that would eliminate Fauci's position of director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. However, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted 17–5 to reject the measure.
In December, Dr. Francis Collins retired from his position as director of the National Institutes of Health.
This week, President Biden's coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zientsannounced he will depart in April. The White House noted that Zients's deputy Natalie Quillian will also leave the administration in April.