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Lawsuit Over Alzheimer's Trial Data

The University of California, San Diego, is suing Alzheimer's disease researcher Paul Aisen for allegedly trying to improperly take clinical trial data with him when he left his post at the university for position at a rival school, Nature News reports.

Aisen headed up a 24-year-old clinical trial network, called the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, at UCSD from 2007 until June when he and some colleagues left for the University of Southern California. ScienceInsider notes that the trial network has a $55 million, five-year cooperative agreement from the National Institute on Aging in addition to other grants, both public and private, and Nature News says UCSD estimates in the suit that the grants total more than $100 million.

According to the suit, which was brought against USC, Aisen, and eight colleagues who made the move with him, Aisen tried to bring ADCS study with him to USC, though he did not, ScienceInsider says. The suit then alleges that Aisen declined to share the passwords necessary for UCSD to access the data stored on Amazon servers.

As Nature News notes, National Institute of Health grants are given to the institution, rather than to the researcher, and when a researcher leaves, he or she must negotiate their transfer. UCSD says Aisen didn't follow the proper protocols.

Aisen, however, says he did nothing out of the ordinary and adds in a statement that UCSD has access to all the data on the Amazon cloud.

Nature News adds that such data-transfer tussles in academia are becoming more common as universities become more involved in developing treatments for disease.

"This isn't just basic research. It's a drug-testing center with significant ties to industry," the University of Alberta's Tania Bubela says of the ADCS at Nature News.