News from the National Academy of Sciences

January 25, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Anthony S. Fauci to Receive Public Welfare Medal – Academy's Most Prestigious Award

WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2021 Public Welfare Medal to scientist, physician, and public health leader Anthony Fauci for his “decades-long leadership in combatting emerging infectious diseases, from the AIDS crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, and being a clear, consistent, and trusted voice in public health.” The medal is the Academy's most prestigious award, established in 1914 and presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good.  

Fauci’s career as a public servant spans more than four decades, and he has advised seven U.S. presidents, including President Joe Biden.  The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, Fauci has played a key role in shaping the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic while leading NIAID-sponsored research efforts to better understand, prevent, and treat COVID-19.  Despite a heavy workload, he continues to promote and reinforce critical public health guidance through numerous media appearances, clearly and compellingly informing the public based on the best available science and evidence – all while directing the NIAID research enterprise, treating patients and conducting research in his own laboratory.

“During this extraordinarily challenging time for the nation and the world, Anthony Fauci has never wavered, tirelessly working almost around the clock to help America fight COVID-19,” said Susan Wessler, home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the selection committee for the award.  “He is an outstanding physician, researcher, and public servant whose immeasurable contributions to public health and welfare have undoubtedly made all of our lives better.” 

“Anthony Fauci is an American hero who has earned the respect and trust of millions for his no-nonsense approach to the pandemic,” said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt.  “Throughout his long and distinguished career, his leadership and ingenuity during public health emergencies has saved countless lives here in the U.S. and around the world. I am delighted to present him with the Academy’s highest honor.”

Long before he became a household name for his work on the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci was a pioneer in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases, helping to steer the nation and the world through many public health crises, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, the swine flu, and Zika. Fauci was also the principal architect of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a lifesaving global program that has accelerated progress toward controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in more than 50 countries.  In recognition of his leadership in PEPFAR, President George W. Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Fauci also contributed to the establishment of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative in 2005, a program that has greatly reduced the burden of this disease in Africa and Asia.  

Fauci has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body's defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections, and in developing treatments that enable people with HIV to live long and active lives. He continues to devote much of his research to the immunopathogenic mechanisms of HIV infection and the scope of the body's immune responses to HIV. As the longtime chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation, Fauci also developed effective therapies for once fatal inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. 

In addition to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Fauci has received numerous other awards and honors.  He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians, the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Robert Koch Gold Medal, the Prince Mahidol Award, and the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as other professional societies; has received 45 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in the United States and abroad; and is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 1,300 scientific publications, including several textbooks.

The Public Welfare Medal will be presented to Anthony S. Fauci during the Academy's 158th annual meeting.  More information, including a list of past recipients, is available at http://www.nasonline.org/public-welfare

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine – provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.


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