COVID-19 Task Force: Three Things To Know About Three Of The Doctors Leading The Fight Against COVID-19

Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General

  • He’s not a surgeon (or a general) – he’s an anesthesiologist. In his role as the “Nation’s Doctor,” he is Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a group of about 6,500 uniformed officer public health professionals whom he calls “America’s Health Army,” that help respond to disasters and disease outbreaks as well as provide health care in hard-hit areas.
  • He goes way back with Vice President Pence. Dr. Adams was appointed to his current post after serving as the Health Commissioner of Indiana, a position he was appointed to by then-Governor Pence. During that role, he oversaw the state’s efforts to combat Ebola, Zika, and the largest HIV outbreak related to injection drug use in the U.S.
  • His work is shaped by his role as a father and a brother: As Surgeon General, Dr. Adams has worked to tackle the opioid epidemic, which hits close to home for him as his brother is currently serving a 10 years in prison for crimes committed to support his addiction. His official government bio states: “...his toughest, but most important job, is being a father to two teenage boys, Caden and Eli, daughter, Millie, and dog Bella.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator

  • Battling previously unknown viruses is personal: In 1983, weeks after reading about a little-known disease, she went into labor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and lost a lot of blood. When doctors tried to give her a blood transfusion, she refused. She successfully delivered her baby and a test later revealed that the blood transfusion was contaminated with HIV. She later led the military’s efforts combating the disease.
  • She’s formerly known as “Colonel Birx.” The retired Army colonel and immunologist spent years researching HIV/AIDS vaccines at Walter Reed, and coordinated the Army, Navy, and Air Force in their HIV/AIDS research efforts. She eventually moved from the Defense Dept to the CDC and later the State Dept as “Ambassador-at-Large” because of her work in the field.
  • She goes “way back” with Dr. Fauci: She worked as a fellow in Dr. Fauci’s lab at Walter Reed, according to the New York Times. In addition to her HIV/AIDS research she has developed and patented vaccines. She recently shared during a recent COVID-19 Task Force briefing that she is mother to two “wonderful millennial young women.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Director

  • He’s led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for 35+ years.  The NIAID is one of 27 institutes at the National Institute of Health. During his tenure, Dr. Fauci worked on combating various infectious disease from AIDS to Ebola, and advised seven U.S. presidents (Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump) on health outbreaks. He said he became a doctor because he says he liked the challenges of science but also enjoyed the humanities: “Where do you put science and people in the same bucket? and to me, that was medicine.”
  • He credits the principle he learned as a result of his Jesuit education for why he went into medicine. Dr. Fauci grew up in an Italian American area of Brooklyn called Bensonhurst. The son of a pharmacist attended Jesuit schools he says helped inspire his service to others – combining “concern for mankind and good intellectual rigor“. In 2005, he said “Broadly and generically, I’m not a regular church attender. I have evolved into less a Roman Catholic religion person [to] someone who tries to keep a degree of spirituality about them. I look upon myself as a humanist. I have faith in the goodness of mankind.”
  • He sleeps (at most) five hours a night because he loves his work as an immunologist. In 2015, he told C-SPAN, “I work a lot of hours. I work most of the weekend. I don’t do it as a drag. I do it because I like it and I’m energized by what I’m doing.” He is married with 3 daughters and his wife, Christine Grady R.N., Ph.D., also works at the National Institute of Health as Chief of the Department of Bioethics.