In an unusual dispute, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), is suing a former faculty member and rival school, the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, for allegedly conspiring to take over a federally funded Alzheimer’s disease study.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, which broke the story on 2 July, the suit filed last week by the UC regents in San Diego Superior Court alleges that USC acted improperly when it began wooing Alzheimer’s expert Paul Aisen around April with the promise of a $500,000 annual salary to be supported by extramural research funding. Aisen was then director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), which has a $55 million, 5-year cooperative agreement from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) as well as other private and public grants. Aisen told his staff he would likely bring the grants with him to UCS, according to the suit. The multi-institution project testing Alzheimer’s drugs in clinical trials has been based at UCSD since it began in 1991; Aisen had directed it since 2007.
Aisen stepped down from UCSD on 21 June to head a new Alzheimer’s center at USC in San Diego—without bringing the grants. The suit alleges that Aisen and his co-workers have declined to share passwords needed to access data from the ADCS that is stored on computer servers owned by Amazon.