Thursday, February 23, 2012
The New York Times is today reporting that the University of Pennsylvania has joined a lawsuit accusing Dr. Craig B. Thompson, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, of "walking off with the fruits of university research" to start his own company, Agios Pharmaceuticals.
According to the Times, Dr. Thompson was sued in December by his former workplace, a cancer research institute located at the University of Pennsylvania, which claimed that he had concealed his involvement with the company. The Times further reports that
Penn seemed to distance itself from the lawsuit, pointing out that the institute — the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute— was a separate legal entity from the university. And people close to Dr. Thompson pointed to the university’s noninvolvement as a sign the accusations were without merit.
That changed yesterday when Penn filed its own complaint against Dr. Thompson in Federal District Court in New York City. The Times continues:
The Penn complaint contains details not included in the initial complaint by the Abramson research institute. It says that Dr. Thompson was a co-author of one scientific paper and the lead author on another related to an enzyme called IDH1 that is a focus of Agios’s research into new ways to treat cancer.
The suit says that before the papers were published in late 2009 and early 2010, Agios filed provisional patent applications based on the research.
After the second paper was published, Penn’s technology transfer office told Dr. Thompson in an e-mail that the work could constitute “a significant patentable invention.” Dr. Thomson told the technology transfer office that there was nothing patentable in the research, even though he already knew that Agios had begun filing for patents on the same work, the lawsuit says.
We'll see how this all turns out.