Bullying and harassment Research integrity

David Sabatini TORmented by steaming turds

David Sabatini is an absolute star scientist, and now he is being harassed. On PubPeer and Twitter. It is all very unfair.

PubPeer may have had a role at some point, but as far as I can tell, is now a platform for resentful, anonymous, petty, failed scientists to harass those who actually make discoveries

Professor David M Sabatini, mTORman

David Sabatini is MIT professor and a titan of molecular biology, an absolute superstar or actually, a superhero of science. The Whitehead Institute principal investigator calls himself mTORman, because he is credited with the discovery of the mTOR kinase, which regulates many cellular processes and is therefore an invaluable target for the pharma industry.

mTORman’s chief superhero power is apparently to be able to certify all conclusions of his top-rank papers as unaffected, despite image duplications therein, and without ever looking into raw data. Instead, Sabatini sends his first authors to replace the offending figures and to warn everyone not to question their papers. And those who insist he checks the data consistency anyway are described as “steaming turds”. Those like Strobilanthes Asper who recently raised concerns about data integrity in Sabatini’s papers, get off lightly: they are merely “failed scientists”. Apparently, these days this is the dictionary definition of

Scientist, successful: a person employed at elite research institution, able to regularly place papers in journals with highest impact factor despite data irregularities and unverifiable research results. Is generally above scrutiny from journals and universities; instils the fear of God in critics.

Some time ago, Sabatini’s science was mildly criticised on PubPeer, and back then no concerns of data integrity were raised. The great man was not amused. The Harvard superstar, who gets angry easily and throws expletives at his critics, protested the anonymity of a PubPeer commenter. After all, a man is entitled to have revenge, and not knowing your critic’s identity is not helpful here.

I think Strobilanthes Asper did a great job flagging Sabatini’s papers on PubPeer and would like to open with a particularly disastrous one. The MIT superstar is penultimate author there, meaning his lab contributed the second-biggest share to that paper. The last author is Dos Sorbassov, former mentee of Sabatini, who then moved to MD Anderson in Texas (a notorious place), and who is now back in his home country Kazakhstan as professor at the Nazarbayev University (named after the country’s undead post-Soviet long-term dictator).

D Boulbes, CH Chen, T Shaikenov, NK Agarwal, TR Peterson, TA Addona, H Keshishian, SA Carr, MA Magnuson, DM Sabatini , DD. Sarbassov Rictor phosphorylation on the Thr-1135 site does not require mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 Molecular cancer research : MCR (2010) doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.mcr-09-0409

Horrible, right? An orgy of Photoshop fraud, a retraction is too mild for this awful paper. So far, mTORman saw no reason to jump to action.

This makes you suspicious of another Sarbassov & Sabatini JBC 2005 cooperation, where a gel for total protein looks exactly like the phosphorylated one (they are supposed to look somewhat similar in band shapes, but never identical). Or, is this really an innocent mistake of oversight, spotted by another PubPeer commenter in an old Science paper from Sabatini lab:

D D Sarbassov, DA Guertin, SM Ali, DM Sabatini Phosphorylation and regulation of Akt/PKB by the rictor-mTOR complex Science (2005) doi: 10.1126/science.1106148

Again, S6K1 blots are accidentally duplicated. As if there was some kind of bug with the S6K1 data? Sarbassov’s papers are truly worth studying, more evidence is listed in the comments below this article. To be fair, Sabatini reacted immediately after I pointed him to his Boulbes et al 2010 paper and the next one, in Nature: he blocked me on Twitter and described me as a “steaming turd”. Which I presume also precludes any possible inquiries at Whitehead and MIT?

N Kanarek , HR. Keys , JR. Cantor , CA. Lewis , SH Chan , T Kunchok , M Abu-Remaileh , E Freinkman , LD. Schweitzer , DM. Sabatini Histidine catabolism is a major determinant of methotrexate sensitivity Nature (2018) doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0316-7

Three image duplications inside same Figure 11, a and b. A rather new paper, why did nobody notice that? Or was Nature afraid to tell Sabatini, fearing he will publish with Cell again next?

The first author Naama Kanarek, now group leader in Harvard, sees it all very relaxed:

we will also ask Nature if they wish to correct it on the online version of the paper. We emphasize that this mistake does not change the conclusion of the figure or any of the statements made in the paper.

When Harvard and MIT folks keep telling you such things, it does sound a bit like a threat. The paper is not even 2 years old, and they already warn you not to ask for a correction, apparently exactly because this is in Nature. whom they also expect to do as told. Can someone tell our scientific elites it is not for them and their editor buddies to decide when their shoddy attitude to data presentation affects the conclusions, but for the scientific community? Especially since they refuse to examine the raw data or to test the reproducibility of their results, as Sabatini made clear on Twitter?

How does one recover old data stored somewhere in Sabatini lab via email discussions with first author who moved on to open a lab of their own? No wonder the hastily procured replacements do not seem to exactly fit. Here is the next figure for Dr Kanarek of Harvard to fix, in that same Nature 2018 paper:

Elisabeth Bik wonders: “Each treatment group had 6 mice, so I would have expected that these photos would represent different mice.”

Turns out, the quantifications presented in Figure 2 are based on copy-pasted numbers, as evidenced by the raw data authors had to supply according to new Nature guidelines. Does this affect any of the conclusions, Dr Kanarek?

As Sabatini said, “how dumb are you?”
There is much, much more. A mega-correction or would a retraction be more appropriate here?

Kanarek had replacement data ready and explained:

In my attempt to make the source data files clear I transposed each of the data sets and named the sets by cell line, treatment and metabolite. It was a mistake because it caused multiple errors.

Nada Y. Kalaany , David M. Sabatini Tumours with PI3K activation are resistant to dietary restriction Nature (2009) doi: 10.1038/nature07782

Duplicated blot

The coauthor Nada Kalaany, now associate professor at Dana Farber / Harvard Cancer Institute replied on PubPeer and announced a possible correction:

Replacement figure

This error does not impact the conclusions of the paper. Nevertheless, we will contact the Nature Editorial Office to let them know about this mistake and its correction.

Where the replacement gel exactly came from is not clear, the new phospho-AKT band “smiles” upwards, while the total AKT band “smiles” downwards, a rare thing to happen were it the same gel re-probed. The new replacement blot also has a different colouring, as another PubPeer commenter noticed. All of which lets one wonder where exactly Dr Kalaany got it from.

In the next instance, a confocal microscopy image was reused in a different case first in a bioRxiv preprint, and then in a PNAS paper. The experimental settings were very different. Sabatini was penultimate, Jared Rutter of University of Utah last author.

CK Kikani , X Wu , S Fogarty , SA Woo Kang , N Dephoure , SP Gygi, DM. Sabatini , J Rutter Activation of PASK by mTORC1 is required for the onset of the terminal differentiation program Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1804013116

First author Chitnan Kikani is now assistant professor at University of Kentucky, and he announced to fix both the preprint and the PNAS paper:

we wish to point out that our erroneous insertion of a panel does not aid or affect data interpretation in any way. […] We are now pursuing the submission of an erratum, wherein we will explain the error and replace the image with the appropriate one.

The next duplication is also puzzling.

J Wedel , S Bruneau , K Liu , SW Kong , PT. Sage , DM. Sabatini , M Laplante, DM. Briscoe DEPTOR modulates activation responses in CD4 + T cells and enhances immunoregulation following transplantation American journal of transplantation (2019) doi: 10.1111/ajt.14995

Flow cytometry plot reused, but why are quantifications different?

The first author Johannes Wedel, originally from Germany, is faculty member in the Harvard lab of David Briscoe, who is last author of that paper. Wedel explained on PubPeer, “on behalf of all authors”:

this minor error and its correction (see below) does not affect the summary of n=8 mice/group illustrated in the same Figure (Fig.1F). This likely resulted from a copy and paste issue during the preparation of the figure and went unnoticed during the submission, review and publication of the manuscript. Also, importantly this minor error and its correction does not change the interpretation of data or conclusions drawn from the extensive additional analyses (including full transcriptomic data, in vitro and in vivo functional analyses) illustrated in the other figures. Nevertheless, we have notified the Editorial Office of the American Journal of Transplantation about this error and its correction.

Maybe not so fast, Herr Doktor Wedel. Surely everyone can accidentally reuse a FACS dataset, but: Since the quantifications are different (11.9 vs 18.0), the most benevolent explanation would be that someone was routinely analysing flow cytometry samples of the same experiment with different gate settings.

A very bad and inappropriate practice (even if other German experts see it differently). Miraculously, Wedel’s replacement figure had the same quantification number 11.9, now based on Ersatz flow cytometry plot (right).

It is not reassuring that neither Briscoe nor Sabatini nor other elite labs have a problem with such approach to flow cytometry. On the other hand, it does produce the “right” results for the right journals. The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) is however the wrong journal to put bent data in.

Q Liu , S Kirubakaran , W Hur , M Niepel , K Westover, CC. Thoreen, J Wang , J Ni , MP. Patricelli , K Vogel , S Riddle , DL. Waller , R Traynor , T Sanda , Z Zhao , SA. Kang , J Zhao , AT Look, PK. Sorger , DM. Sabatini , NS. Gray Kinome-wide selectivity profiling of ATP-competitive mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors and characterization of their binding kinetics Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m111.304485

That figure was originally flagged for the re-used Akt western blots, which function as loading control here. A mistake of oversight maybe, until someone else commented:

Akt panels appear to show 8 lanes as a control for a 7 lane blot

Oops. This suggest that the authors possibly did not have the correct Akt blots at hand in the first place, and used some unrelated library loading controls, copy-pasted two times each, without even bothering if they at least show the same number of samples.

But how do we know the blots were equally loaded then? Simple: because the last authors are Sabatini and Nathaniel Gray of Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Harvard. QED. This is also why the first author of another Sabatini-Gray co-production Carson Thoreen (now associate professor at not just somewhere, but at Yale) replaced a western blot loading control in Thoreen et al JBC 2009 while warning:

We would like to emphasize that these changes have no impact on any of our original conclusions.

Another commenter pointed out that “the background color of this new blot is slight different than all the other blots (is more blueish, while the others are gray)“, which lets one wonder again where the resourceful first author got it from. If it was the original, correct scan from 2009, it would have been the same colour as the rest of the figure, no?

Yale professor Thoreen would probably also say none of that affect the conclusions of this paper of his:

Y Sancak , CC. Thoreen , TR. Peterson , RA. Lindquist , SA. Kang , E Spooner , S A. Carr, M. Sabatini PRAS40 is an insulin-regulated inhibitor of the mTORC1 protein kinase Molecular Cell (2007) doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2007.03.003

First author Yasemin Sancak is now assistant professor at University of Washington. What is it with that wretched ribosomal protein S6 kinase S6K which always needed some tinkering with?

This other Sabatini collaboration is another chapter in 50 shades of Gray, very painful and excruciating to watch:

Q Liu , C Xu , S Kirubakaran , X Zhang , W Hur , Y Liu , NP Kwiatkowski , J Wang , KD Westover , P Gao , D Ercan , M Niepel , CC Thoreen , SA Kang , M P Patricelli , Y Wang , T Tupper , A Altabef , H Kawamura , KD Held , DM Chou, SJ Elledge, PA Janne, KK Wong, DM Sabatini, NS Gray Characterization of Torin2, an ATP-competitive inhibitor of mTOR, ATM, and ATR Cancer Research (2013) doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.can-12-1702

Somehow the histological sections for animals sacrificed after 2 days of treatment (Figure 5C) are identical to those sacrificed after 4 weeks (Figure 5D), only stretched. A mistake? Sure it is, just like these duplications are, once again that S6K protein misbehaved:

To further test how gullible everyone is, the authors supplemented a 5-lane gel with a 6-lane loading control.

The two papers are merely 8 years old, but so far the authors remained silent. There is little incentive for Gray to bother with PubPeer criticisms in the first place, because the director of his Ludwig Center at Dana Farber is none other by Bob Weinberg, who is a god in his own right and as such above such things.

Speaking of gods. Before forming an opinion about this Cell paper from the lab of David Root at Broad Institute, you should ask yourself: are you worthy? It features the cancer research god Bill Hahn and the Broad Institute director Eric Lander, next to Sabatini. On your knees, now.

J Moffat, DA. Grueneberg, X Yang, SY Kim, AM Kloepfer, G Hinkle, B Piqani, TM Eisenhaure, B Luo, K. Grenier, AE Carpenter, SY Foo, SA. Stewart, BR. Stockwell, N Hacohen, WC Hahn, ES Lander, DM Sabatini, DE Root A lentiviral RNAi library for human and mouse genes applied to an arrayed viral high-content screen Cell (2006) doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.01.040

The first author Jason Moffat, now professor at University of Toronto, replied:

We are checking into this.”

Moffat did not say whether the conclusions are affected or not, but in any case: only a steaming turd of a failed scientist would doubt his Cell paper now.

The next paper has a minor duplication of a FACS plot, but the Korean first author Joon-Ho Sheen is presumably too busy to reply, being a senior scientist at LG.

JH Sheen , R Zoncu , D Kim , DM. Sabatini Defective Regulation of Autophagy upon Leucine Deprivation Reveals a Targetable Liability of Human Melanoma Cells In Vitro and In Vivo Cancer Cell (2011) doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2011.03.012

Sabatini, in whose lab the original data remained, cannot be bothered. In 2021 that paper will be 10 years old and it will be inappropriate to ask him to check for any eventual raw data anyway.

Also here nobody bothered to reply. The first author Liron Bar-Peled is now assistant professor and principal investigator at Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

L Bar-Peled, LD. Schweitzer, R Zoncu, David M. Sabatini Ragulator is a GEF for the rag GTPases that signal amino acid levels to mTORC1 Cell (2012) doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.07.032

This time it does not look like a mistake of oversight. The Figures 1A and 1B contain 12 western blots each, labelled as clearly different assays with different protein constructs. And yet the RagC and p18 panels were reused, and stretched, which made them look dissimilar.

Ye ta al Aging 2013, note that the upper copy-pasted panel is digitally retouched.

There are other issues with Sabatini’s publication record: a collaborative paper with a Chinese group contains an unashamedly fake western blot, or a shady paper with the notorious Italian cheater duo Carmine Settembre and Andrea Ballabio (Settembre et al EMBO J 2012).

More recently, concerns were raised that the authors misinformed peer reviewers and readers about the specificity of the NEK10 antibody central to the paper’s main findings: the paper Chuvukula et al Nature Medicine 2020 is brand new. Similar concerns were noted for a slightly younger Nature paper from Sabatini lab, Wolfson et al Nature 2017. But the mighty mTORman already made clear on Twitter that he does not intend his papers for the scientific community, only for the exclusive readership of editors at elite journals. Whether or not the presented scientific results are any reliable, does not in any way affect the perfectly factual and reproducible conclusions that those were published in Nature and Cell.

There is also a duplicated picture of a mouse embryo in Sabatini’s own paper in Nature, Efeyan et al 2013, co-authored by his dad, David Sabatini Sr. There, the first author Alejo Efeyan, now group leader at CNIO in Madrid, informs everyone:

It is important to note that neither this very minor mistake nor its correction affect the validity of the data, its interpretation, conclusions drawn, or any other aspect of the published paper.

You steaming turds have been warned.

Original image: NIH Flickr, with graphic art borrowed from Wolf Erlbruch

This article was updated on 30 and 31 January 2020.

Update 21.08.2021

Sabatini was sacked after an investigation found that he “violated the Institute’s policies on sexual harassment among other Whitehead policies unrelated to research misconduct”.

An email by Whitehead Institute director Ruth Lehmann was shared with the employees:

I am writing to let you know that David Sabatini, a member of Whitehead Institute, is no longer associated with either the Whitehead Institute or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, effective immediately. 
Dr. Sabatini’s departure comes on the heels of his receipt of a report laying out the findings of an independent investigation into the culture and working environment of his lab.  This investigation was precipitated by a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey commissioned and conducted last winter which collected data and comments on the culture across the Institute.  The results of this survey identified issues of particular concern in the Sabatini Lab and that led to the appointment of Hinkley Allen & Snyder LLP to investigate the Sabatini Lab.  In sum, the investigation found that Dr. Sabatini violated the Institute’s policies on sexual harassment among other Whitehead policies unrelated to research misconduct.
Dr. Sabatini’s departure has significant implications for the 39 members of his lab, four of whom are HHMI employees; the remainder are Whitehead employees.  Whitehead human resources personnel will be conducting one-on-one meetings with all 39 – next week – 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.
I am and will always be steadfast in my commitment to providing an inclusive, supportive environment for the training and research of our community. 

Ruth Lehmann

Maybe the misconduct investigation set off other complaints. Pier Paolo Pandolfi was also sacked in Harvard for sexual harassment unrelated to research misconduct.

That’s what we steaming turds achieved.

For more mTOR fraud, read here:


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82 comments on “David Sabatini TORmented by steaming turds

  1. Pingback: Never-ageing Anti-aging to cure COVID-19 – For Better Science

  2. Pingback: Pier Paolo Pandolfi out of Harvard, spotted in Italy and Nevada – For Better Science

  3. From Wikipedia:

    “In 1994, Sabatini used rapamycin and its binding partner FKBP12 to purify the mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) protein from rat brain, showing it to be the direct target of rapamycin in mammals and the homolog of the yeast TOR/DRR genes”

    Shocking if true
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/BF1E961AF625AAB497F1D0E55CBF04

    Like

    • Failed scientist = at the minimum, someone who didn’t cheat to get a faculty position. Sabitini clearly is not a failed scientist, and should be proud. And is.

      Like

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  6. Pingback: mTOR: conclusions not affected? – For Better Science

  7. “Speaking of gods. Before forming an opinion about this Cell paper from the lab of David Root at Broad Institute, you should ask yourself: are you worthy? It features the cancer research god Bill Hahn and the Broad Institute director Eric Lander, next to Sabatini. On your knees, now.”

    What the gods gonna say now?

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/C7EB21A64E60B6FB1402478D4AE937#3

    Like

  8. “D Boulbes, CH Chen, T Shaikenov, NK Agarwal, TR Peterson, TA Addona, H Keshishian, SA Carr, MA Magnuson, DM Sabatini , DD. Sarbassov Rictor phosphorylation on the Thr-1135 site does not require mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 Molecular cancer research : MCR (2010) doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.mcr-09-0409”.

    Figures 2B and 2C. Much more similar and different than expected.
    This is addtion to all the duplications pointed out in this article.

    Like

  9. Noted scientist David Sabatini has been placed on administrative leave following an investigation into sexual harassment at his lab.

    •serious•

    witnessing men facing consequences for their actions is so wild that i don’t know to process it.

    it’s g… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…— Science Drama Queen (@drama_science) August 20, 2021

    Like

    • Thanks, article updated.
      A bit weird that the only online story critical of Sabatini until today, is the one above.
      What if my own reporting and a written notification of research misconduct prompted Whitehead to invite further lab member complaints?
      From 4 February 2020:

      Dear Dr. Schneider,

      I’m writing on behalf of MIT’s Vice President for Research, Professor Maria Zuber, and the Senior Director for Research Administration and Compliance, Colleen Leslie, to acknowledge receipt of your email to Professor Zuber on January 31, 2020, in which you allege possible misconduct in research conducted by a member of the MIT community. In support of your concern you provide a link to a list of 44 of the subject individual’s publications in the PubPeer database, including PubPeer commentary, as well as a link to an article you authored and published on your website about the concerns.

      As the Vice President for Research (VPR) at MIT, Professor Zuber initiates and oversees the review of allegations of misconduct in research conducted at MIT pursuant to MIT Policies & Procedures 10.1 (the “MIT policy”). Under both the MIT policy and federal regulations (when applicable), MIT’s receipt and review of allegations of possible research misconduct are highly confidential to protect the integrity of the review and the privacy of all persons who participate in the process, so please understand that it is very important that you not disclose to anyone, including the subject individual, that you have submitted concerns to MIT for review or that MIT is conducting a review.

      If MIT needs additional information from you in order to conduct its review of the concerns you raised, we will of course contact you for assistance in the context of the review process. We will be able to update you generally about whether the review is still underway or nearing completion. Once the review is complete, you will be informed of the outcome.

      MIT takes all concerns of possible research misconduct very seriously, so we thank you for bringing these concerns to the Institute’s attention.

      Sincerely,

      Kerry A Sousa
      Compliance Officer
      Office of the Vice President for Research
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      77 Massachusetts Avenue
      Room NE18-901
      Cambridge, MA 02139
      Tel: 617-452-2083
      ksousa@mit.edu

      Like

  10. Family is everything… isnt it?

    Makes you say absurd things to justify your brother’s acts…

    Makes you like absurd tweets…

    B.S., dont you consider that inappropriate touch and unwanted kissing forms of sexual harassment?

    Like

    • Actually, Bernard S, the brother of our victim, may be right.

      If MIT/Whitehead decided to get rid of David Sabatini because of research fraud, that would be legally difficult or rather undoable. In USA, proving research fraud is technically impossible, HHS-ORI was created specifically with the purpose to protect fraudsters.
      https://forbetterscience.com/2020/09/04/how-usa-embraced-research-fraud-review-of-two-books/
      What happened here was probably this: Whitehead asked Sabatini to quietly bugger off and find another job far away, the usual process in academia when dealing with problematic professors. Sabatini the Diva refused because he blames a conspiracy of steaming turds.
      So the elite law firm Whitehead engaged had to dig through 20 years of his emails and ask all possible witnesses till they had a charge they could use (bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment), a legally solid and straightforward route to sack someone. See again, Pier Paolo Pandolfi.
      Sabatini miscalculated badly. Powerful, aggressive and dishonest men like these two created enough damage on their way up, so there are always victims willing to speak out if someone is willing to listen. I predict many more research fraudsters stumbling over their past abuse, if they are dumb enough to refuse resigning voluntarily.

      Btw, Jeffrey Flier’s best friend is C Ronald Kahn. Kahn is luckily too old to answer for his research misconduct, he will likely be just quietly retired. I wrote about Kahn’s published fraud here:
      https://forbetterscience.com/2019/11/25/boycott-them/

      Like

  11. alfricabos

    You all have heard the news of Sabatini being placed on leave….

    Like

  12. NMH, the failed scientist and incel

    I was going through D. Sabatini’s twitter feed a while back and noted he said, on twitter, that “A woman never looks more beautiful that after she dumps you.”

    I wonder if he would say something similar about HHMI dumping him?

    Not as much fun as going through Augustine Choi’s twitter feed, however. Lot of humble bragging and schilling of his wife on his part. Lots of fun, never fails to entertain me.

    I really think the problem is people with a lot—too much—ambition going into science is causing the reproducbility crisis. You should want to go into science to do good science, not so that you can become a powerful, well-paid person, who gets lots of sex, and then do some science on the side.

    Like

    • Lee Rudolph

      “who gets lots of sex”

      Friendly amendment: “who gets (and takes) lots of opportunities to harass/abuse lower-rank people in various ways”.

      Like

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  14. Updates:

    1) The National Academy of Sciences is conducting a review after receiving a misconduct complaint against David Sabatini.https://twitter.com/ADeAngelis_bio/status/1430572389826506757

    2) iBiology has decided to remove Dr. Sabatini’s talks from our website and YouTube channel. https://www.ibiology.org/message-to-our-community/

    3) Thermo Fisher has placed Dr. Sabatini on leave from its Scientific Advisory Board https://twitter.com/thermofisher/status/1429910986400600074

    4) PEW website don’t list David Sabatini profile anymore https://www.pewtrusts.org/projects/pew-biomedical-scholars/directory-of-pew-scholars/2003/david-sabatini

    Like

  15. Lee Rudolph

    Sabatini is back in the news today! From the Boston Globe:

    ====
    MIT professor sues after he was forced to resign from institute following sexual harassment allegations

    A prominent Massachusetts Institute of Technology biology professor who was forced two months ago to resign from the biomed institute where he worked following sexual harassment allegations has filed a lawsuit claiming he is the victim of false claims made to “exact revenge against a former lover,” according to court records.

    Dr. David M. Sabatini says he had a consensual sexual relationship with his accuser, who worked with him at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, according to the suit filed Wednesday, which refers to Sabatini as “a world renowned medical and scientific researcher and a tenured professor at MIT with a stellar reputation who conducted groundbreaking research.”

    After Sabatini ended the affair in 2019 and said “on multiple occasions that he did not want a long term relationship” with his co-worker, she continued to pursue him and eventually “fabricated claims that Dr. Sabatini had sexually harassed her (when in fact the exact opposite was the case),” according to the lawsuit.

    The Whitehead Institute conducted a “sham” investigation in which “the attorneys conducting the supposed impartial investigation spent literally hours attempting to elicit unflattering information about Dr. Sabatini while their descriptions of what lab culture was really like were ignored,” he alleges.

    As a result, Sabatini lost his lab and lost awards worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the damage to his reputation may make it impossible for him to find future funding for his research, according to the filings. His mental health has “deteriorated to the extent that he was advised not to live alone and to have friends and family monitor him,” the documents say.

    Sabatini remains a tenured professor at MIT, where he was placed on administrative leave in August.

    His suit alleges defamation, wrongful interference with his employment and his relationships with funders and scientific journals, and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

    He seeks unspecified money damages and attorneys’ fees and names his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute’s director, Dr. Ruth Lehmann, as defendants. The Globe does not identify alleged victims of sexual harassment without their permission.

    Lehmann and an MIT spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

    Sabatini claims the investigation into the allegations against him was biased and that he was not allowed to have lawyers present when he was interviewed, though his accuser had a high-powered employment lawyer at her side for her interview.

    The investigators’ 229-page report did not reach a conclusion about whether Sabatini and his accuser’s relationship was consensual and “consisted of rehashing and repeating at enormous length the same small set of complaints about the demanding nature of work at the cutting edge of scientific research in a laboratory singularly devoted to the truth,” according to the lawsuit.[…]

    ====

    Given that the lawsuit (as quoted) alleges that his laboratory was “singularly devoted to the truth”, does that open up the possibility for one or more of the defendants to impeach him by proving that his laboratory was not, in fact, “singularly devoted to the truth”? I think that neither the Whitehead Institute nor its director would want to take that tack, but perhaps his unnamed “accuser” might!

    Like

  16. More on the lawsuit by Sabatini…
    https://stemwhispers.weebly.com/home/david-sabatini-admits-to-having-sex-with-a-graduate-student-in-defamation-lawsuit

    ”The court filing is public, you can find it here. Select superior court, Middlesex county, search for name Sabatini, David. Case number is 2181CV02828.
    https://www.masscourts.org/eservices/home.page.6

    File number two “Complaint electronically filed.” is the filing. It’s worth reading the entire thing as a case study in ego and manipulation.”

    ”The filing starts by making the case that Sabatini is a Very Important Person and Very Successful Scientist and therefore could never do wrong. It goes on to attempt character assassination of the primary accuser in many ways including by noting that she also had sex with other people which, as an adult, is peripheral. It largely ignores the other accusers.”

    ”The filing admits that Sabatini was on the accuser’s thesis committee. The filing admits that their sexual relationship began in April 2018, when the accuser was still a graduate student before starting as a fellow . The filing admits that there were three accusers, but spends the bulk of its text focusing on one of them. The filing discusses repeated whiskey tastings with the lab and repeated drinking of hard alcohol at work encourages problematic behavior, as noted in the NASEM report on Sexual Harassment.”

    Like

  17. NMH, the failed scientist and incel

    That court document is an interesting read. Although Sabatini seems to have a huge ass ego and there is a lot of irreproducible crap apparently produced in his lab, his accusers mentioned in the document he is suing could have as large egos as he does and may want to make an example of him, ala Larry Summers. It seems weird that they would try to bring him down, unless, of course, their egos and the me too narrative commanded that they do that. The fact that his jilted lover demanded that she have a harem that included him suggests to me that is possible. Juicy stuff indeed.

    Like

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