Fast-forward to present day and the 79-year-old is again at the forefront of scientists' efforts to dispel misinformation and explain the Covid-19 pandemic, even when it means challenging the current U.S. president under the glare of global television.
Social media star
With his frequent appearances at the White House, Fauci has been "propelled into the consciousness of all," said Robert Thompson, a television and popular culture expert at Syracuse University in New York.
"As soon as it became clear that there was community spread ... then it became clear that we were in real trouble," says Dr. Fauci.
Fauci is on social media, giving live interviews in his husky voice on Snapchat, answering questions from basketball star Stephen Curry on Instagram, and speaking with comedian Trevor Noah on YouTube.
Many Americans like Fauci for his direct way of explaining a world transformed by the pandemic. He is often in the unbearable position of having to correct U.S. President Trump while standing next to him.