For Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Christine Grady, Love Conquers All

For Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Christine Grady, Love Conquers All

It was a meet-cute fit for a medical rom-com. The year was 1983. Christine Grady was a clinical nurse specialist at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., just back from two years working with Project Hope, the humanitarian NGO, in Brazil. Anthony Fauci was an attending physician at the NIH. As Grady would later tell InStyle, “We met over the bed of a patient.”

Grady still remembers the patient’s name: Pedro. He was Brazilian, he did not speak English, and he wanted to go home. Pedro asked nurse Grady, who’d become fluent in Portuguese, to help make the case to his doctors, including Fauci. “Tony told him he may go home and be very careful about taking care of his health and doing his dressings and sitting with his leg up and things like that,” according to Grady, who interpreted. In Portuguese, Pedro replied, “There’s no way I’m doing that. I’ve been in the hospital for months. I’m going to the beach, and I’m going dancing at night,” Grady recalled. “In a split second, I decided to tell Tony, ‘He said he’d do exactly what you said.’” In other words, Fauci cracked in his recent InStyle cover story, “She lied!”

All Fauci knew was that he was impressed by the multilingual nurse. Two days later, he called Grady to his office. “I thought I was going to get fired,” Grady said. Instead, he invited her to dinner. “She almost fell right through the chair,” Fauci told C-SPAN. “She said, ‘Of course I will.’” Long before he was the U.S.’s first heartthrob immunologist, his face emblazoned on T-shirts and Christmas ornaments and Brad Pitt impersonating him on SNL, Grady saw something. “You weren’t as scary as people made you out to be,” she said in a joint interview with NPR last year. “Everybody was afraid of you, and when I first saw you I thought, What are they talking about? He’s young and handsome and doesn’t seem that scary.”

For Fauci, it was “love at first sight…she was intelligent, beautiful, spoke multiple languages, and she had a very wonderful bedside manner. I immediately said, ‘I have to go out with her.’”

Some 35 years later, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Grady (she went on to earn her doctorate in bioethics) are married with three daughters and are a medical power couple leading the fight against the coronavirus. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, everyone knows by now that Fauci has managed the U.S. medical response. Meanwhile, Grady is chief of the department of bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center—a job she’s been doing remotely from their kitchen table in Washington—studying the ethical issues of the pandemic, including patients dying alone because visitors aren’t allowed, health care workers who don’t have adequate PPE, and the threat of hospitals reaching capacity. Last year, Grady published a paper on the challenges facing nurses on the front lines.

He calls her Chris. She calls him Tony. They ascended the ranks of the medical community while raising their three now grown daughters, Megan, Allison, and Jennifer. “I approach parenting with everything I’ve got, and I think I approach my work with everything I got too,” Grady said to Fauci. “And I know you do.” Still, America’s doctor couldn’t escape the jitters of new fatherhood way back when. “Do you remember what it felt like to first become a dad?” Grady asked her husband in their NPR interview. “I was afraid,” Fauci answered. “I was this highly respected physician. I can take care of any adult you want, but I don’t know how to take care of a baby.”

The Fauci-Gradys share a sense of doggedness: He is known for 16-hour workdays, and as an avid runner, squeezing in seven-mile midday runs that have now been downgraded to power walks with his wife. “Christine and I put in three and a half miles of power walking every day. I used to say ‘run,’ but I don’t run very much anymore because, at the end of the run, various parts of my body hurt so much,” Fauci told The Guardian. “Power walking is very enjoyable and relaxing, and we look forward to it. I must say, Chris is always ahead of me because she’s faster and in better shape.”

Fauci’s sudden thrust into the spotlight has been a stressor for his family. The threats have extended to harassment of Grady and his daughters. Being a target himself “bothers me less than the hassling of my wife and my children,” Fauci told 60 Minutes. Grady was justifiably defensive about Trump-incited criticism of Fauci: “When he gets criticized, it feels unfair to me because he is working so hard for the right reasons.”

The couple seems to be seeing each other through the difficulty of the pandemic. Grady threw him surprise parties for his 50th, 60th, 70th, and even his recent 80th birthday, when she conspired with his security to return him home by 5:30 p.m., when Fauci found a virtual gathering of friends from around the world. “She is a genius at fooling me,” Fauci told The Guardian. “I mean, it’s very tough to fool me.” For fun, they enjoy wine and pasta (relatable!)—he’s been known to make homemade rigatoni with sausage. In a 2015 CBS interview, they clinked wine glasses across the kitchen counter while Fauci said, “Salud.” They don’t watch much TV, as one can imagine, but Grady prefers cop shows like Chicago P.D., while Fauci is an action-based, Bourne trilogy fan.

“The thing that I’m most thankful for, quite frankly, is you,” Fauci told Grady in an NPR interview last Thanksgiving. Grady replied, “We have each other, that’s for sure.”

PhD. Christine Grady, the wife of Dr. Fauci is the head of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. This organization reports all research materials directly to FDA.

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