“David Sabatini … is no longer affiliated with the Whitehead Institute or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, effective immediately,” Whitehead Institute director Ruth Lehmann wrote this afternoon. An investigation by an outside law firm, she wrote, “revealed that Dr Sabatini had violated the Institute’s sexual harassment policy among other policies unrelated to misconduct in the check.”
Her e-mail adds that the Whitehead Institute has hired Hinkley, Allen & Snyder to investigate this after a campus climate survey conducted last winter “identified issues of concern.” special center in the Sabatini laboratory.”
Lehmann wrote that the release would have “significant consequences” for the 39 people working at the Sabatini lab, which focuses on the mechanisms that regulate growth and metabolism in mammals. All 39 people will meet with Whitehead human resources staff next week, she wrote, with the goal of a smooth transition to other scenarios.
As a student, Sabatini discovered the mTOR kinase signaling pathway, a central regulator of growth and aging that does not function normally in common diseases, including cancer. He continues to focus on the journey by discovering its many key ingredients. In 2016, he was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences , which recently began expelling members who were found by the organization to have committed sexual harassment.
The Whitehead Institute, HHMI and Sabatini did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.
Lehmann was among several prominent biologists who published a letter in the journal Science in 2017 arguing that US biomedical institutions were not doing enough to combat sexism.
This is a developing story and will be updated.