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USC Countersues UCSD as Fight Over Alzheimer’s Study Intensifies

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Updated 8/3/15 1:25 pm. See below.] The short path to a resolution in the dispute between UC San Diego and the University of Southern California over a nationwide Alzheimer’s research program has taken a sharp detour into the thorny underbrush.

While both sides were awaiting a formal court order granting UC San Diego’s request for a preliminary injunction in the case, USC filed a countersuit late Friday against UC San Diego (posted at the bottom of this story). A USC spokesman said the private university in Los Angeles also plans to appeal aspects of the still-pending preliminary injunction.

[Updated 8/3/15 1:25 pm here and below.] Today, UC San Diego issued a lengthy response to USC’s countersuit that begins: “The University of Southern California’s cross-complaint is fundamentally dishonest. It is a collection of misstatements and outright falsehoods designed to distract from a singular truth: While he was on the faculty at UC San Diego, Dr. Paul Aisen, aided and abetted by his future employer USC, illegally seized control of data and computer systems that belong to UC San Diego as the administrator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS).

“On July 24, Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes agreed, ordering Aisen, USC and co-defendants to safely restore UC San Diego’s rightful property.”

As an “early read” on the merits of a case, a preliminary injunction can often lead to settlement talks. But USC’s countersuit reveals deeper antagonisms between the two Southern California universities, and appears to make it unlikely that either side will come away unscathed.

Among other things, USC alleges that the University of California, San Diego, demanded that scientist Paul Aisen sign a loyalty oath as he discussed his interest in moving to USC, along with the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS).

UC San Diego hired Aisen in 2007 to administer the program, which coordinates Alzheimer’s research throughout the U.S. and Canada. UC San Diego founded the study in 1991 as a kind of joint venture with the National Institute on Aging, with funding provided by federal research grants, the pharmaceutical industry, and private foundations.

Paul Aisen

Paul Aisen

Aisen resigned from UC San Diego on June 21 to join USC, which also named Aisen as founding director of its new San Diego-based Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute. Aisen views the ADCS as his, not UC San Diego’s, and wanted to bring the program, which gets about $100 million a year in funding and oversees studies involving thousands of patients at over 70 research sites, to USC.

USC’s countersuit alleges that UC San Diego tried to intimidate researchers on Aisen’s team to keep them from leaving for USC, and defamed Aisen by … Next Page »

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