Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been the director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health for 37 years, just received an award for the way he has conducted himself throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Only he didn't get the honor from an American institution, it came from Tel Aviv University in Israel. With it, Fauci will receive $1 million USD and perhaps a bit of overdue recognition.
Dr. Fauci has, of course, become famous as the straight-talking yet friendly face of medical authority in the US and around the world, but this award isn't attached to mere fame. According to the committee that gave the physician the University's Dan David Prize, Fauci was recognized for not just his career as a whole but for being a "consummate model of leadership and impact in public health" and for "speaking truth to power" as COVID-19 became more and more politicized.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, (Fauci) leveraged his considerable communication skills to address people gripped by fear and anxiety and worked relentlessly to inform individuals in the United States and elsewhere about the public health measures essential for containing the pandemic's spread," the awards committee said. "In addition, he has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment."
The Dan David Prize, established by the late Italian Israeli philanthropist Dan David, annually awards three prizes of $1 million honoring contributions to knowledge of the past, contributions to society in the present and advances for the future.
Dr. Fauci was among a handful of recipients of David Prizes from around the world, including historians recognized for their work illuminating the history of medicine and specialists from the NIH National Cancer Institute who have been working on "anti-cancer immunotherapy."
While for Anthony Fauci this is a substantial professional award, he has also achieved a legacy outside of his actual work. His last name has become a pop-culture meme: "Fauci-ing."
According to the New York Post, the term originated on a dating app and means "cutting off a relationship if you don’t think that that other person is serious enough about social distancing and taking the pandemic seriously,"
Dr. Fauci learned of the verbing of his name at a press conference, laughed, and said, "I’m gonna 'Fauci' you."
It would be cooler if "Fauci-ing" meant an Israeli institution is about to give you a million bucks for doing your job well. Either way, it looks like everything is coming up Fauci, and the good-humored doctor is just rolling with it.