Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver the commencement address at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – an institution under fire for its professors conducting gain-of-function research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The upcoming address follows a heated exchange between Senator Rand Paul and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director. The Kentucky Senator pressed Fauci on the work of Dr. Ralph Baric, a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).
This weekend, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Kizzmekia Corbett will virtually deliver the Class of 2021's Commencement address. #UNC alumna and Hillsborough native @KizzyPhD says, "I’m a scientist because I started being a scientist at UNC and a moment like this is a full circle for me.” pic.twitter.com/Wf5GVLeVxl
— UNC-Chapel Hill (@UNC) May 13, 2021
“For years, Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the U.S., has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create superviruses. This gain-of-function research has been funded by the NIH,” Senator Paul inquired.
“Dr. Baric is not doing gain-of-function research, and if it is, it is according to the guidelines and is being conducted in North Carolina. If you look at the grant and if you look at the progress reports, it is not gain-of-function, despite the fact that people tweet that, write about it,” Fauci later responded in defense of the professor. Senator Paul also notes how Fauci is “in the minority” not labeling Baric’s research as gain-of-function, citing over 200 scientists that agree the research falls under the category.
Dr. Baric has also attended conferences at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, including an International Symposium on Emerging Viral Diseases in 2018.