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Might Just Be the First

The Alzheimer's Disease Collaborative Study is caught up in a legal dispute following the move of researcher Paul Aisen and some 30 colleagues from University of California, San Diego, to the University of Southern California, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The University of California is suing Aisen, 11 of his colleagues, and USC. It alleges that Aisen broke a commitment he made when he tried to move the Alzheimer's study with him from UCSD to USC. The UC board is seeking access to the research data, compensation for the loss of contracts, and damages.

Aisen says, though, that moving grants and data to a new institution is standard practice. USC, the Journal adds, has filed a countersuit.

Though such lawsuits are uncommon in academia, the Journal notes that this may be a "harbinger of entanglements to come."

"As university research becomes big business, you're going to see a lot of employment issues come up that are routine in the business world, such as no-compete agreements and suing employees to prevent escape of intellectual property," Samuel Estreicher, director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at New York University, says.