Controversial researcher Sabatini withdraws from consideration for NYU position

David Sabatini_Whitehead Institute (MIT) Courtesy of

David Sabatini / Courtesy Whitehead Institute (MIT)

David Sabatini has withdrawn his name for a faculty post Bee New York University Langone Health

In a short statement sent to BioSpace this morning, Sabatini announced his decision. He said “false, distorted and ridiculous accusations” about him have risen across news outlets and social media following reports that he was seeking a faculty position.

“I understand the tremendous pressure this has placed on NYU Langone Health and do not want to distract from its important mission. I have therefore decided not to consider my name for a faculty position there,” said Sabatini in his statement. “I deeply respect the mission of NYU Langone Health and appreciate the support of individuals who have taken the time to learn the facts. I remain steadfast in the belief that eventually the truth will emerge and that I will eventually be justified and able to return to my investigation.”

Last week, reports surfaced that Sabatini, who… expelled last year by the Whitehead Institute on sexual harassment allegations, was for the faculty position at New York University (NYU) Grossman School of Medicine. Sabatini’s hiring reportedly had the support of Robert Grossman, the dean of the medical school, as well as Executive Vice President and Vice Dean for Science Dafna Bar-Sagi, Science reported at the time.

As reports of his potential hiring emerged, concerns about his appointment were raised by current faculty and staff, according to the reports.

A well-known cell biology researcher, Sabatini, has: filed a counter-suit to Whitehead alleging that he is the victim of false claims. As BioSpace has previously reported, Sabatini claimed in his lawsuit that a sexual relationship between him and his accuser was consensual. Sabatini, who ran an HHMI-supported lab at the Whitehead Institute, said he ended the relationship in 2019, but the accuser, a colleague, did not want it to end. Sabatini claims he “stressed several times that he didn’t want a long-term relationship”. However, when he ended the relationship, she sought revenge, he claimed.

In addition to a position at the Whitehead Institute, Sabatini was also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a position he resigned earlier this year for what would likely be a layoff after an investigation into his situation. It was likely that he would have been fired by MIT for violating school policies on consensual sexual relations.

Two years ago, Sabatini, together with Michael Hall from Biozentrum, Universität Basel in Switzerland, won the Sjöberg Prize for their research on cell metabolism and cell growth. The prize was awarded on the basis of discoveries made by researchers who demonstrated proteins that regulate cell growth. Sabatini’s discovery was in mammals, which showed that the protein, called mTOR, detects nutrients and controls how they are used in vital processes in human cells. In some cancers, mTOR has been shown to be overactive and stimulate the growth of cancer cells.

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