A Goal of Service to Humankind Dr. Anthony Fauci says he was destined to help people with HIV and AIDS. His work at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is fueled by his belief in personal responsibility to humankind.

A Goal of Service to Humankind

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Unidentified Man #1: I believe in the power of love.

Unidentified Man #2: I believe that a generation of young people...

Unidentified Woman #1: I believe it deeply and sincerely.

Unidentified Man #3: I believe in the importance of passing this knowledge on.

Unidentified Woman #2: I believe that everyone wants to love and be loved.

Unidentified Man #4: All of these add up to my belief in the dignity of the individual.

Unidentified Man #5: I believe in people.

Unidentified Man #6: This I believe.


Our series, This I Believe, allows people to share the principles that guide their daily lives. Today, we hear from Dr. Anthony Fauci. He oversees the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and he's one of the country's best-known authorities on AIDS and HIV. Here's our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.

JAY ALLISON reporting:

Dr. Fauci's career had humble beginnings. He grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and delivered prescriptions by bicycle for his father's drugstore. Now, and for over 20 years, even as he guides research and US policy on AIDS and bioterrorism, he continues to see patients. He considers himself a driven man. His belief is in both the fuel and the purpose of the drive. Here is Dr. Anthony Fauci with his essay for This I Believe.


I believe I have a personal responsibility to make a positive impact on society. I've tried to accomplish this goal by choosing a life of public service. I'm a physician and a scientist confronting the challenge of infectious diseases. I consider my job a gift. It allows me to try and help alleviate the suffering of humankind.

I have three guiding principles that anchor my life, and I think about them every day. First, I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Knowledge goes hand-in-hand with truth, something I learned with a bit of tough love from my Jesuit education, first at Regis High School in New York City and then at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. I consider myself a perpetual student. You seek and learn every day; from an experiment in the lab, from reading a scientific journal, from taking care of a patient. Because of this, I rarely get bored.

Second, I believe in striving for excellence. I sweat the big and the small stuff. I do not apologize for this. One of the byproducts of being a perfectionist and constantly trying to improve myself are sobering feelings of low-grade anxiety and a nagging sense of inadequacy. But this not anxiety without a purpose; no, this anxiety keeps me humble. It creates a healthy tension that serves as the catalyst that drives me to fulfill my limited potential. This has made me a better physician and scientist. Without this tension, I wouldn't be as focused. I have accepted that I will never know or understand as much as I want. This is what keeps the quest for knowledge exciting, and it is one of the reasons I would do my job even if I did not get paid to come to work every day.

Third, I believe that as a physician, my goal is to serve humankind. I have spent all of my professional life in public service, most of it involved in research, care of patients and public health policy concerning the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When I chose to concentrate on AIDS in the 1980s, many of my colleagues thought I was misguided to be focusing all of my attention on what was then considered just a gay man's disease. But I felt that this was my destiny and was perfectly matched to my training. I knew deep down that this was going to become a public health catastrophe. I am committed to confronting the enormity of this global public health catastrophe and its potential for even greater devastation. Failure to contain it cannot be an option.

I believe that to be even marginally successful in working to contain this terrible disease, I must be guided by these principles. I must continually thirst for knowledge, accept nothing short of excellence and know that the good of the global society is more important and larger than I am.

ALLISON: Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health with his essay for This I Believe.

We are inviting all Americans to contribute to our project. You can send your own statement of personal values through our Web site at npr.org. For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Next Monday on "Morning Edition," a This I Believe essay on love and adoption from Jackie Lantry(ph), a listener in Massachusetts.

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