Stritch School of Medicine Professional formation and physician leadership
The philosophy of Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci on his approach to medicine, his career, and the impact of his Jesuit education
It’s fair to say that every household in the United States, and perhaps the world, knows the name Dr. Anthony Fauci. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, his steadfast leadership as the nation’s top infectious disease expert has guided the country through many of its most challenging health crises, notably the HIV/AIDs epidemic. But, before being appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) or serving as medical advisor to seven U.S. presidents, Fauci, like all physicians, was a student—a student of Jesuit education, to be specific. His classical education not only prepared him to thrive academically but shaped his perspective on the world and his approach to medicine and health care.
“One of the great things about the Jesuit education that I had in high school and college is that it was steeped in the classics,” says Fauci. As a student at New York City’s Regis High School and College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts), Fauci was exposed early on to the foundations of a classical education: Latin, philosophy, and history. “Studying Greek and Latin is more than just translating the Iliad and the Odyssey,” he says. “It’s getting to know people centuries ago and putting into perspective what mankind is capable of doing; what mankind is capable of enduring.”
While Fauci admits that he’s more interested in the philosophy of man rather than man’s physiology, he chose to enter the medical field because of his affinity for chemistry and biology. In fact, for him, “the absolute natural marriage of humanism and science was medicine.”
Over the years, Fauci has often looked to the lessons of the ancient Greeks and Romans to guide him as he responded to pandemics, outbreaks, and other global health crises. “My training and my affinity for the human species and humanism has fared me as well or better than if I was just worrying about a T-cell versus a B-cell versus a receptor.”