A bitter dispute that pitted the University of California, San Diego, against the University of Southern California and Paul Aisen has been settled. USC will pay UCSD $50 million to compensate for its sudden recruitment of Aisen and other scientists who worked with him at the Alzheimer’s Disease Co-operative Study based at UCSD. That surprise move, in June 2015, led to suits, countersuits, a tussle over ADCS data management, and the loss of major ADCS clinical trials at UCSD, including the A4 secondary prevention trial, to a new USC venture called the Alzheimer's Therapeutic Research Institute (Jul 2015 news). “I think it is very gratifying that we have reached a settlement and that it acknowledges the importance of carefully managing one’s transition to another institute,” said William Mobley, UCSD. Mobley served as interim co-director of the ADCS after Aisen’s departure. “Now, with this resolved, both institutions can heal,” he told Alzforum.
The settlement stipulates public statements. One on the USC website states, “USC and Dr. Paul Aisen regret that the manner in which Dr. Aisen and members of the ADCS staff left UC San Diego and brought research assets to USC created disruption to UC San Diego. These actions did not align with the standards of ethics and integrity which USC expects of all its faculty, administrators, and staff.”
Researchers on both sides seem happy to put this behind them and focus on Alzheimer’s disease research. Aisen is not allowed to comment on the settlement, but the USC statement adds, “USC and Dr. Aisen acknowledge the outstanding work and the ongoing commitment and leadership of the researchers and administration at UC San Diego in the pursuit of cures for Alzheimer’s disease.” Mobley expressed similar sentiments. “We see colleagues at USC as important, valuable people doing excellent work, and we value that. I hope that lines of communication can now reopen to our mutual benefit,” he said. Howard Feldman, Director of ADCS at UCSD, said the events of this week provide an opportunity to move forward. “We appreciate that a settlement has been reached to the benefit of all concerned,” he wrote to Alzforum. “The ADCS today is committed to developing a range of studies and clinical trials directed at multiple risk factors, and novel disease targets,” he added (see full comment below).—Tom Fagan
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