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The legal dispute between the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Southern California regarding a federally funded $55 million Alzheimer's disease project has been taken to the next level, reports ScienceInsider.

Last month, UCSD sued USC, alleging that after USC enticed Alzheimer's disease researcher Paul Aisen and much of his lab to relocate, Aisen moved the data from the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study to an Amazon Cloud account that UCSD couldn't access. Aisen had wanted to take, but wasn't able to, the project with him to USC. ScienceInsider notes that a California court issued a preliminary injunction at the end of July to restore control of the study data to UCSD.

It now adds that USC has issued a cross-complaint that alleges that UCSD prohibited Aisen from accessing his email account while still at UCSD — which it says preventing him from monitoring patients — pressured him to sign a 'loyalty oath,' and defamed him by telling research sponsors that he'd soon be arrested and barred from practicing medicine. USC also claims USCD lawsuit's was "aimed at stifling academic freedom and [intimidating] researchers from leaving the UC System."

A UCSD spokesperson tells ScienceInsider that the suit isn't about academic freedom. Further, the spokesperson says Aisen's email was shut down to prevent data theft after the National Institutes of Health confirmed UCSD was the legal custodian of the data and that the 'loyalty oath' was a pro forma document

ScienceInsider notes that "[b]oth sides appear to be girding for what could be a lengthy court battle."