New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine will present Dr. David Sabatini, a biologist accused of sexual harassment, will no longer be considered for a faculty position after news that he was in the running sparked backlash among students and faculty members last week.
Lisa Greiner, a spokeswoman for NYU Langone Health, said in a statement Tuesday that the administration and Dr. Sabatini had agreed that he would withdraw after the medical school reviewed a wide range of responses from his community.
“We heard voices of support from many dozen of Dr. Sabatini’s colleagues, laboratory alumni and colleagues who described their first-hand experiences working with him,” said Ms. Greiner. “But we also clearly heard the deep concern of our own faculty, staff and interns.”
In his own statement, Dr. Sabatini expressed outrage at his potential hire, first reported in the journal Science, and increasing public pressure on the medical faculty. He insisted the charges against him were false.
“I deeply respect the mission of NYU Langone Health and appreciate the support of individuals who have taken the time to learn the facts,” said Dr. Sabatini. “I remain steadfast in the belief that the truth will eventually emerge and that I will eventually be justified and able to return to my investigation.”
Ms Greiner added that the Dr. Sabatini had started talks about possibly joining the medical school’s faculty, and that both sides had since decided that this “wouldn’t be possible.”
dr. Sabatini is a biologist best known for his discovery of the mTOR protein, which regulates cell growth in animals.
In August 2021, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology placed him on administrative leave after an independent investigation found that he had violated sexual misconduct policies at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, a nonprofit research institution affiliated with MIT, where he held a lab led.
The same day he was put on leave from MIT, Dr. Sabatini resigned from the Whitehead Institute and was fired by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit that funded his research.
He eventually resigned from MIT in April after three faculty members who reviewed the allegations recommended that he revoke his tenure after discovering he had violated school policies on relationships and workplace behavior, according to a letter to the faculty of L. Rafael Reif, MIT president, obtained by The Boston Globe.
A former Whitehead Institute colleague accused Dr. Sabatini accused of sexual harassment early last year, claiming he “groomed” her when she was a graduate student under his mentorship, as well as doing the same to other young women in his lab.
The former colleague also claimed that Dr. Sabatini forced her to have sex with him, and that he asked her if she was sexually active and “nice” before recommending her for a research position at the Whitehead Institute.
In October, Dr. Sabatini filed a lawsuit against the Whitehead Institute and its accuser, alleging that his relationship with the woman had been consensual and that the sexual harassment allegations were false.
The prosecution filed suit in December detailing some of the sexually suggestive comments he said he often made about her and other women, such as comments about the size of her breasts, often during whiskey tastings he hosted in his lab.
“Sabatini had created, encouraged and tolerated a toxic and sexually charged laboratory environment and engaged in otherwise illicit conduct,” the counter-indictment said.
The news that NYU was considering getting Dr. Sabatini was met with outrage by students, teachers and alumni, who staged a strike at the medical school last Wednesday that drew about 200 people.
Melissa Cooper, a postdoctoral researcher at the medical school, said he was relieved that Dr. Sabatini would not be hired. But she said the situation had highlighted the need to involve more graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in staffing decisions, arguing that they should have been part of the hiring committee from the start.
“I’m really happy that what we said seems to have made an impact,” said Dr. cooper.
“We are the people who work with them every day,” she added. “Our opinion on this is very important.”
Stephanie Saul reporting contributed.