USC Countersues UCSD as Fight Over Alzheimer’s Study Intensifies

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informing pharmaceutical companies sponsoring clinical trials that Aisen had committed crimes and that UC San Diego intended to “have him arrested, put in jail, and his medical license suspended.”

In its statement today, UC San Diego says its legal filings show through evidence and Aisen’s own testimony that Aisen’s conduct squarely violated section 502 of the California Penal Code, which makes it a crime “to take, copy and use computer data and systems without permission of the rightful owner.”

USC alleges that UC San Diego academic leaders, including David Brenner, Dean of the UCSD Medical School, also have interfered with Aisen’s efforts to move four of six major Alzheimer’s studies to USC. In the case of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, led by Michael Weiner of UC San Francisco, USC alleges that Brenner and UCSF leadership used their influence to pressure Weiner to rescind his decision to award the neuroimaging initiative to USC.

In today’s statement, UC San Diego said the subcontract for the study came up for renewal and UC San Diego acted to renew it—and neither Aisen nor USC were a party in the contract, “so how can there be interference? Conversely, UC San Diego has every right to seek renewal of its own existing subcontract.”

USC also alleges in its countersuit that Aisen realized soon after joining UC San Diego that the university was unwilling and unable to provide the infrastructure and support “needed to grow the ADCS for the new grants and studies he was developing.”

UC San Diego filed its lawsuit on July 2, alleging that USC and Aisen conspired to “misappropriate” the nationwide Alzheimer’s study by moving the work to USC.

USC argues that the ADCS national steering committee supported Aisen’s move to USC. But UC San Diego maintains that funding for Alzheimer’s research and clinical trials is provided to UC San Diego—not an individual—and the university is contractually obligated to maintain its control of the program, computer systems, and research data that has been collected over the past 24 years.

In its filings, UC San Diego argues that Aisen owed the university “a duty of loyalty” as long as he was an employee, and that actions he took to transfer control over the ADCS computer system to USC were inimical to UC San Diego’s interests. In its response today, UC San Diego says, “The so-called loyalty ‘oath’ was, in reality, a commitment to re-affirm what he had already agreed to as a condition of his employment, i.e., that he would not act against the university’s interest.”

It’s also worth noting that in a declaration included as part of USC’s filings, Aisen says the ADCS program “tripled in size in terms of funding” under his direction at UC San Diego.

As part of its suit, UC San Diego asked San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes to issue a temporary restraining order against USC, Aisen, and other defendants “to refrain from making any changes or alterations to ADCS data” that might interfere with restoring the custody and control of the Alzheimer’s data to UC San Diego. The request also asked the court to restore rightful custody and control of the Alzheimer’s data to UC San Diego.

At the end of a July 24 hearing, the judge granted UC San Diego’s request for a preliminary injunction to restore control of the Alzheimer’s program and data to UC San Diego, saying she would issue a formal order in a few days. The judge said she also would name a special master and consultant to ensure that the ADCS computer system and data are protected until the litigation is resolved.

USC Countersuit vs. UC San Diego

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