Thursday, July 30, 2015
As detailed in new stories in Southern California media, an important suit by University of California San Diego (UCSD) against University of Southern California (USC) highlights a battle between public and private research enterprises. Control over millions of dollars is stake for Alzheimer's-related research. From the San Diego Union-Tribune in a Sunday feature article by Larry Gordon, Gary Robbins and Bradley Fikes:
In the lawsuit, U.C. San Diego alleges that USC, [Alzheimer's researcher Paul] Aisen and eight colleagues conspired to take research data involving more than 1,000 patients and other assets, including an estimated $100 million in federal and private funding to a new Alzheimer's study center in the San Diego Area. Aisen and USC deny any wrongdoing and contend that UC San Diego is trying to inhibit the freedom to move jobs and is threatening the data's security.
A Superior Court judge in San Diego last week denied USC's request to block UC San Diego's access to that data.
Richard Seligman, the associate vice president for research administration at Caltech who has more than four decades of experience dealing with grants, said he had never heard of such a lawsuit even though competition for grants and noted faculty has gotten more fierce.
Stakeholders interested in the outcome of the research are reported to be taking note of the suit, with Mary Carrillo, the chief science officer for the Alzheimer's Association quoted as saying the association wants a "speedy resolution" of the lawsuit to keep research going forward.
Left in an uncomfortable middle ground are the National Institutes of Health and its subsidiary National Institute on Aging, which provides about $11 million per year to the UC Alzheimer's Center. While confirming that UC San Diego still holds that grant, officials at those agencies said they must approve whether funding like that stays put or moves to another school with a principal investigator like Aisen.
For additional background on the lawsuit, see a related Los Angeles Times piece here. Reporters from the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune have collaborated on these stories.
On Friday, July 24, a California trial court ruled that the key research data must be returned to UCSD and therefore does not go "with" the faculty member, Aisen, recruited away from San Diego by USC. Details here.
As further evidence of the battle for primacy in southern California medical research, USC and UCSD have each courted the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, with University of California-San Diego energing as the winning suitor for "affiliation." Details here.