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Dr. Anthony Fauci to deliver Emory Commencement address

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Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver the 2021 Commencement address for Emory College of Arts and Sciences and receive the Emory University President’s Medal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he will give his remarks virtually.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver the 2021 Commencement address for Emory College of Arts and Sciences and receive the Emory University President’s Medal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his address will be given virtually and will be available to all Emory graduates and the university community via livestream. 

Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health since 1984, advising seven presidents on domestic and global health issues, including COVID-19.

“I cannot think of a more inspiring person than Dr. Fauci to address the Class of 2021, whose Emory experience has been so dramatically shaped by the pandemic, and whose resilience and determination have inspired us again and again,” says Emory President Gregory L. Fenves. “During the past year, Dr. Fauci’s name has become synonymous with truth, clarity and medical expertise. As chief physician to our country in the midst of a pandemic, he has become one of the most trusted voices in medicine for millions of Americans, and we are excited to honor him as part of Emory’s 176th Commencement.” 

In addition to his work on COVID-19, Fauci oversees an extensive research portfolio focused on infectious and immune-mediated diseases. As the longtime chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, he has made many seminal contributions in basic and clinical research and is one of the world’s most-cited biomedical scientists. 

Fauci was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world. He has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body's defenses, leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections. He has also been instrumental in developing treatments that enable people with HIV to live long and active lives, and 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.

His honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, and the Lasker Award for Public Service. He received an honorary doctor of science degree from Emory in 2003.

Fauci will become only the sixth person to receive both of the highest honors awarded by Emory — the honorary degree and the President’s Medal, which is conferred upon distinguished university guests whose impact on the world has enhanced the prospect of peace or enriched cultural achievement. Previous recipients of both honors include His Holiness the Dalai Lama; U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is also Emory University Distinguished Professor; U.S. Rep. John Lewis; Ambassador Andrew Young; and epidemiologist Dr. William H. Foege, who is credited with devising the strategy to eradicate smallpox and also served on the Emory faculty.

“Emory’s motto, ‘the wise heart seeks knowledge,’ is exemplified by Dr. Fauci’s many decades of public service,” Fenves says. “Indeed, it is his wise heart, and the knowledge he has provided, that have helped us get through a year like no other.”

Fauci’s address, delivered live from Washington, D.C., will be part of the Commencement ceremony for Emory College, the university’s largest group of 2021 graduates. The ceremony takes place May 16 at 10 a.m. Because of the pandemic, the nine schools and colleges that make up Emory University will hold individual, physically distanced ceremonies May 14–16 at the Georgia World Congress Center. All will be viewable online for those not attending in person. Fauci will also give an acceptance speech for the President’s Medal, which will be played during all of the schools’ ceremonies. Learn more about Emory’s Commencement schedule.

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