Sabatini resigns from Whitehead over sexual harassment

Sabatini remains a tenured professor at MIT; MIT reviewing reports

David Sabatini, MIT biology professor and former Whitehead Institute member, resigned from the Whitehead Aug. 20. He was further terminated from his employment as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Sabatini remains a tenured professor at MIT but has been placed on administrative leave according to his MIT Biology profile

Whitehead Director Ruth Lehmann announced Sabatini’s resignation in an email to staff Aug. 20. Sabatini “is no longer associated with either the Whitehead” or the HHMI, “effective immediately.” 

Sabatini’s departure comes after an investigation found he “violated” the Whitehead’s “policies on sexual harassment” and others “unrelated to research misconduct,” Lehmann wrote.

Todd Golub, director of the Broad Institute, wrote in an email to staff Aug. 21 that Sabatini has also been placed “on leave at the Broad, where he is a senior associate member.”

According to Lehmann’s email, a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey commissioned and conducted last winter” that “collected data and comments on the culture” across the Whitehead “identified issues of particular concern in the Sabatini Lab.” Hinkley Allen & Snyder LLP was appointed to investigate the lab. 

Lehmann added that Sabatini’s departure has “significant implications for the 39 members of his lab,” where four are “HHMI employees” and “the remainder are Whitehead employees.” “Whitehead human resources personnel will be conducting one-on-one meetings” with all 39 members to “help effectuate a plan to ensure their smooth transition to another lab setting so that they may continue their work in pursuit of their career goals.”

MIT’s News Office wrote in an email to The Tech that MIT takes “complaints regarding harassment seriously” and that the “senior administration is reviewing the report and determining next steps in response to these findings, up to and including revocation of tenure proceedings.” 

Sabatini has been funded by the HMMI since 2008, according to HHMI’s profile on Sabatini. He is also a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and research professor at the American Cancer Society. It is unclear if he still maintains these positions since the reports.