Dr. Anthony Fauci’s wife Christine Grady serves in a leadership role overseeing bioethics research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position that doesn’t give her oversight of her husband’s work.
Earlier this week, Twitter CEO Elon Musk suggested that Grady’s position gave her the authority to oversee work conducted by Fauci — who currently serves as the White House chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — and ensure he complied with agency ethics rules. The comment sparked confusion over whether there was a conflict of interest regarding Fauci’s professional relationship with his wife.
“Almost no one seems to realize that the head of bioethics at NIH – the person who is supposed to make sure that Fauci behaves ethically – is his wife,” Musk tweeted Wednesday.
“How do I not know this? That would be a big deal,” Eric Weinstein, the managing director of Thiel Capital, responded.
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However, Fauci and Grady work in two different agencies which, while both are overseen by the NIH, are separate entities.
While Fauci leads NIAID, a key agency that oversees infectious disease research and policy, Grady is the chief of the Department of Bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center. The NIAID and Clinical Center are among the 27 different institutes and centers that are part of the NIH which itself is within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In addition, Grady’s office conducts bioethics research, not internal ethics investigations. The HHS has an independent inspector general who conducts internal investigations into operations at the NIH and its many institutes and centers.
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“Dr. Grady is the Chief of Bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center and a member of the NIH research community,” the NIH told Fox News Digital in a statement. “To be clear, the Department of Bioethics is distinct from the NIH Ethics Program. The NIH Department of Bioethics in the NIH Clinical Center is a center for research, training, and services related to bioethical medical and research issues.”
“The Department conducts conceptual, empirical, and policy-related research into bioethical issues; offers comprehensive training to future bioethicists and educational programs for biomedical researchers and clinical providers; and provides high quality ethics consultation services to clinicians, patients, and families of the NIH’s Clinical Center and advice to the NIH IRBs, investigators, and others on the ethical conduct of research,” the statement continued.
“The NIH Ethics Program assists NIH staff to meet the requirements of the statutes and regulations governing behavior of employees of the Federal Government.”
The Department of Bioethics was founded in 1996 and designed to serve as a “premier center for bioethics to complement and inform the NIH’s cutting-edge program of biomedical research.”
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Fauci and Grady married in 1985 and have since held high-ranking positions in the federal government. While they have rarely appeared in public together, the pair took part in a discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic hosted by the Greenwall Foundation in November 2021.
Fauci, who has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic as the nation’s top infectious disease expert, announced in August that he would retire on Dec. 31.