What Presidents Has Dr. Fauci Advised?

Dr. Anthony Fauci didn't become the prolific medical professional that he is today overnight. It took years of training and studying — as well as some hand-to-hand combat with a few life-threatening public health crises — that helped him become the government's top infectious diseases expert.

In 1984, Fauci was appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, otherwise known as NIAID. His extensive experience and impressive portfolio have collected him a number of awards of the years, including a Presidential Medal of Honor (via NAS Online). Fauci's expertise has deemed him best suited to understanding COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic, making him a pivotal member of the White House's coronavirus task force.

But while Fauci has become a household name since 2020 due to his efforts towards COVID relief, a younger audience might not know that coronavirus is certainly not his first rodeo. In fact, he has been instrumental through a myriad of public crises, including HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, Ebola, and Zika, per his NIAID biography. And as such, studying these diseases has meant that he has been working in the White House for decades, alongside an impressive number of presidents.

Ronald Reagan was the first president Fauci worked with

So exactly how many presidents has Dr. Anthony Fauci advised, and who are they? Well, he has been working in the White House as the top infectious diseases expert since 1984, meaning he has advised seven different presidents, per the Political Database of the Americas. The first president he ever worked with was Ronald Reagan, who served his first term from 1981 to 1985, and then a second term until 1989. 

During his time working alongside Reagan, Fauci's work was predominantly focused on the AIDS crisis. Fauci reportedly used this experience as inspiration behind much of his work on COVID-19. "As soon as COVID-19 came, I immediately thought about my dear friend Larry," said Fauci of his friend, longtime AIDS and gay rights activist Larry Kramer (NBC News). Fauci knew that if someone like Kramer, who was an immunocompromised 85 year old with HIV, were to contract COVID-19, his prognosis would most likely be bleak.

Fauci had a close friendship with George Bush, Sr.

From 1989 to 1993, Dr. Anthony Fauci worked alongside president George Bush, Sr. But while the administration had changed, the research hadn't. Indeed, the world was still buzzing about the prospect of AIDS, as it was still relatively unknown at the time. In a presidential debate in 1988, when Bush was asked a question regarding who Americans should look to for inspiration, Bush called on none other than Fauci. "I think of Dr. Fauci. Probably never heard of him," Bush said. " "He's a very fine research ... top doctor at the National Institutes of Health, working hard doing something about research on this disease of AIDS," (via the Independent). 

Sources say that Fauci and Bush were actually quite close, with Fauci recalling that it was "just by accident I developed a really close friendship with him because he came to the (National Institute of Health) in the late 80s when he was vice president and was thinking of running for president, and he sincerely wanted to learn about HIV," he said in an episode of Sanjay Gupta's "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction." Fauci added that he found Bush to be "very modest" and an "unbelievable human being," per CBS58.

Fauci said that 'Clinton had all the right vibes'

As another four years came and went, so did the POTUS. Dr. Anthony Fauci began his work alongside President Bill Clinton, who would go on to serve from 1993 to 1997, and then a second term from 1997 to 2001. Sources suggest that Fauci wasn't quite as close with Clinton as he was with Bush, explaining on Sanjay Gupta's show that his relationship was just "different." He explained, "Clinton had all the right vibes about what to do. I had a good relationship with him, but it was quite formal, as you would have with respect to the presidency", (via CBS58).

At the time that Clinton was sworn into office, there had already been roughly 200,000 AIDS related deaths within the United States. As a result, he increased funding for research, treatment, and care related to the HIV/AIDs crisis. He also implemented a ban on the use of federal funds for needle exchanges in an attempt to discourage the use of drugs (via The Atlantic). Serendipitously, Clinton and Fauci would end up working together again many years later on the COVID-19 pandemic, per Scimex.

Fauci believes George W. Bush made one of the best presidential decisions of all time

The next president — who would end up being another two term leader — got to know Dr. Anthony Fauci not through working on the HIV/AIDS crisis, but through a series of brand new challenges. George W. Bush served as POTUS from 2001 to 2005, and then again until 2009. Fauci and Bush worked together amid the 9/11 crisis as well as the 2001 anthrax attacks, which happened just seven days after the Twin Towers had fallen (via NPR). The anthrax attacks taught the world about the dangers of bioterrorism, which Fauci called a "wake-up call" in a 2011 interview with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As for Fauci's relationship with Bush, it's clear that they both respected each other greatly. In fact, Fauci called Bush's PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) "one of the most important things any American president has ever done," adding that "it saved millions of lives" (via CBS58). Bush would end up awarding Fauci with the coveted Presidential Medal of Freedom for his outstanding work in advancing efforts towards understanding and treating the HIV/AIDS crisis (via Weill Cornell Medicine).

Fauci couldn't help but reflect fondly on his time working with Barack Obama

Barack Obama was POTUS from 2009 to 2016, making him the country's most recent two term president as of publication. A sentiment assumed by many who had the pleasure to know former president Obama, nearly everyone who met him loved him — Fauci included. In fact, Fauci gushed about his time working alongside him and said Obama was "a very easy person to get along with and a really good, good human being." 

The two worked side-by-side during the outbreaks of Ebola and Zika. Fauci recalled a time where Obama made a cheeky comment in an attempt to add a bit of light-heartedness during the tension of these virus outbreaks. "He said, 'I got children at the border, I got wars going on, and I'm spending all my time with these diseases. Would you guys please do something about this?' It was sort of like almost tongue in cheek, but it was serious," Fauci said, per CBS58.

Donald Trump and Fauci had a tumultuous relationship

It's no secret that Dr. Anthony Fauci was no fan of this next president, who served from 2016 to 2020. Former president Donald Trump made it quite clear that he didn't particularly like Fauci, either, vehemently disagreeing with Fauci nearly every step of the way during his presidency. Trump famously called coronavirus the "Democrats' new hoax" (via Today) which directly contracted Fauci's attempts to get the public to take the disease seriously. Unsurprisingly, Fauci also did his best to prevent the public from consuming or injecting disinfectant after Trump suggested it could be a viable method to counteract COVID-19, per BBC.

When Sanjay Gupta asked Fauci about his relationship with the former president, Fauci responded diplomatically, saying that the relationships he's had with each president he's worked with have simply been "different" each time. "I had no interaction with President Trump for the first three-plus years because there was not any reason to interact. We were doing our job. You know, he was doing what he was doing," Fauci said, per CBS58. When it comes to the status of his relationship with Trump, Fauci doesn't seem to care one way or another — but he certainly had no issue correcting Trump or downright refuting him when it came to the coronavirus (via CNN). He even once stated that he felt "uncomfortable" at times under the Trump administration, per Reuters.

Joe Biden and Fauci are working closely on COVID relief

And finally, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been working alongside current President Joe Biden, who was elected in 2020. The two have been working together to combat coronavirus and get as many people vaccinated as possible. According to Politico, the two have developed a pretty close relationship in the time that Biden has been POTUS, which many believe might be due to their previous time working together while Barack Obama was president and Joe Biden was vice president. In fact, the two have appeared to work so well together that Biden promoted Fauci to a larger role within his administration, ultimately giving Fauci access to more resources as well as a space within the Oval Office.

Fauci has publicly praised Biden, thanking him for his willingness to "let the science speak," a philosophy reflected by the president's penchant for COVID-19 testing, masking reinforcement, encouragement towards vaccinations, and more (via Reuters). That said, the two are still working hard to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only time will tell if Fauci will continue to be as pivotal a member within the White House as he has been over the past several decades of presidencies.