UC San Diego accuses USC of conspiring to grab Alzheimer's research, funding

Paul Aisen

Universities regularly woo top scientists from rival institutions, recruiting not only high-profile individuals but their lab teams as well in the hope of bagging promising science and the millions in federal funding that go along with it. But in a rare confrontation, UC San Diego has sued USC and research scientist Paul Aisen for an alleged conspiracy to purloin data and investigators involved in prominent Alzheimer's research work.

In addition to being a professor at UCSD, Aisen was named director of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study back in 2007. The ADCS is a research consortium that plays a key role in undertaking large Alzheimer's drug studies, including work on Eli Lilly's late-stage drug solanezumab.

As Bradley Fikes at the Union-Tribune reports, the ADCS has won tens of millions of dollars in support for speeding up the development of Alzheimer's drug development. And UCSD says USC was looking to bag the funds when it recruited Aisen and his 8 researchers for a new research institute.

UCSD filed the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, while USC says it was simply engaged in the same kind of scientific recruiting methods practiced by all universities.

"We are surprised and disappointed that the University of California San Diego elected to sue its departing faculty member and his team, as well as USC, rather than manage this transition collaboratively, as is the well-accepted custom and practice in academia," USC said in a statement.

Aisen, for his part, didn't comment on the lawsuit or the $500,000 annual salary that USC offered him to take the job.

"We are proud of our work, grateful for our partners and disappointed that one faculty member has chosen to separate in such a way that puts the ADCS' work in jeopardy," Pradeep Khosla, UC San Diego's chancellor, wrote in a statement to the Union-Tribune.

- here's the story fom the Union-Tribune

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