MIT scientist unemployed after affair turns into sexual harassment

A renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist who was fired after he said he had an affair with a much younger colleague, said the escalating scandal pushed him into the unemployment threshold.

David Sabatini, 54, whose research has involved unraveling how tumors develop, resigned from MIT last month and is living off his job after fellow scientist Kristin Knouse claimed he “nurtured” and “forced” her into a sexual relationship. , according to a report and court papers.

A longtime friend and dean of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine tried to offer him a job, but after an uproar, the school announced on May 3 that they would not hire him, despite colleagues in a recent article telling him. described as one of the world’s greatest scientists – a “genius” in line for the Nobel Prize.

“What wormhole took my life, until… protests and being called a sexual predator? What quirk in the universe made this possible?” said Sabatini, who denies the wrongdoing and noted that Knouse did not work in his lab or report to him.

In a lawsuit against MIT in October, Sabatini said his relationship with Knouse, who is 21 years his junior, was consensual — and told a reporter he was shocked to find himself the subject of protests at NYU when the school closed. explored the possibility of hiring him.

Sabatini is reportedly being turned down for other vacancies.
Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Sabatini has claimed that he and Knouse started their affair at a conference in 2018 while he was in the middle of a divorce. By 2020, he thought the affair had cooled down, though he claims Knouse wanted to continue. In October 2020, she complained that she had been harassed, and in a later lawsuit, Sabitini would oversee a “sexualized” environment in his lab.

He has been despondent since leaving MIT, he said. He stopped eating and sleeping, lost 35 pounds in three months, “cryed a lot and his hair fell out,” according to the article in Bari Weiss’ “Common Sense” SubStack column.

It is not just Sabatini who has to deal with the consequences.

After the Grossman School of Medicine announced they wouldn’t hire him, the National Institutes of Health decided to audit $500 million in grant money under the supervision of the dean who first considered bringing him on board, Common Sense reported.

Dafna Bar-Sagi, a vice dean for science and chief scientific director of the medical school, called Sabatini “one of the greatest scientists of our century”, and led an investigation into the charges against him “at the risk of robbing society of the benefit of having someone like this continue their career and make really meaningful discoveries that can impact human health for generations,” she told the outlet.

assistant professor of biology;  Intramural Faculty, Koch Institute
Knouse said Sabatini “nurtured” and “forced” her into a relationship.
Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute

NIH said it received anonymous complaints about Bar-Sagi and recently sent a letter to NYU expressing concerns about its ability to “provide a safe environment for interns,” Common Sense reported.

“If there was anything unpleasant about this man’s behavior, we wouldn’t have touched him with a 10-foot pole,” Ken Langone, the chairman of the board of directors for NYU Langone Medical Center, told Common Sense, calling the work to vet Sabatini ” exhausting.”

Outside attorneys consulted by NYU, who reviewed a report on MIT’s allegations, found that Sabatini was denied a fair trial, the university told Common Sense.

Kristin Knouse Assistant Professor of Biology;  Intramural Faculty, Koch Institute
Sabatini insists his relationship with scientist Kristin Knouse was consensual until she filed a sexual harassment complaint.

“If people are close to the idea that there could be a consensual relationship between two adults, I’m afraid we can’t get a handle on it,” said Robert Grossman, dean of NYU Medical School.

The NIH did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Knouse did not respond to an email asking for comment.

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