An already bitter legal dispute between the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the University of Southern California (USC) over control of data from a large, federally funded Alzheimer’s study just got nastier.
Last month, UCSD sued USC and Alzheimer’s researcher Paul Aisen, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), for allegedly conspiring to commandeer data from the large, federally funded study after USC lured Aisen, a $55 million federal grant, and many of his lab members away from UCSD in June. According to UCSD, Aisen “took unauthorized control of ADCS data” after leaving UCSD by moving it to an Amazon cloud account. On 24 July, a California superior court found in favor of UCSD, issuing a preliminary injunction to restore control of the study data to the school.
On 31 July, USC launched a blistering cross-complaint against UCSD, which claims that the university’s actions were unjustified, defamatory, and in violation of the California Constitution. Among UCSD’s alleged illegal “shenanigans”: cutting off Aisen’s email and other electronic communications while he was still at UCSD, “jeopardizing his ability to monitor clinical trials and protect patient safety and research integrity;” “pressuring Dr. Aisen to sign an unconstitutional “Oath of Loyalty”; and “defaming” him by stating to research sponsors that Aisen would be arrested and barred from practicing medicine. USC describes the USCD lawsuit as “aimed at stifling academic freedom and to intimidate [sic] researchers from leaving the UC System.”