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Scoop: MIT professor, biotech founder placed on leave following sexual harassment investigation

  • Noted scientist David Sabatini has been placed on administrative leave following an investigation into sexual harassment at his lab.
  • Sabatini has helped create multiple biotech companies like Navitor and KSQ Therapeutics. 
  • “The report raises very serious concerns about sexual and workplace harassment,” according to an email sent out Friday.

A leading Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist, whose work has led to the creation of multiple biotech companies, has been placed on administrative leave by the university following an investigation into misconduct within his lab, according to two emails shared with Insider. 

David Sabatini has been placed on leave after an outside investigation found that he had violated the sexual harassment policy and others at the Whitehead Institute, a research center on MIT’s campus where Sabatini operates a lab. 

He has resigned from the Whitehead Institute and is no longer associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a research organization that had funded some of his work, according to one of the emails sent Friday, which was verified by the Whitehead Institute.

Sabatini did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to operating his lab at the Whitehead Institute, Sabatini taught biology at MIT. The university has placed Sabatini on leave while it reviews the report in more detail and figures out next steps, including potentially revoking Sabatini’s tenure, MIT Dean of Science Nergis Mavalvala wrote in a letter sent to faculty, also reviewed by Insider.

“The report raises very serious concerns about sexual and workplace harassment,” Mavalvala wrote.

Sabatini’s work focuses on a growth mechanism in cells called the mTOR pathway, which may play a role in cancer,

diabetes
, and aging. He has helped found biotechs like Navitor, KSQ Therapeutics, and Raze Therapeutics. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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