USC settles lawsuit with UCSD over Alzheimer’s research program

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LOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California has agreed to pay UC San Diego $50 million to settle a lawsuit over USC’s seizure of UCSD’s Alzheimer’s disease research program and its hiring away of the program’s director, a prestigious Alzheimer’s researcher.

The lawsuit alleged that Dr. Paul Aisen — director of the program — illegally conspired with USC to join the private Los Angeles university, and take data and federal grant funding intended for UCSD with him.

The suit — filed by UCSD and the UC Board of Regents in San Diego Superior Court — additionally alleged that Aisen conspired with USC to hire away eight colleagues from UCSD for the Alzheimer’s program.

In connection with the settlement, USC issued a public apology for taking control of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study in 2015.

“USC and Dr. Paul Aisen regret 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,” according to a USC statement released Tuesday read. “These actions did not align with the standards of ethics and integrity which USC expects of all its faculty, administrators and staff.”

When the suit was filed in 2015, USC released a statement that said the school was “surprised and disappointed that the University of California San Diego elected to sue its departing faculty member and his team, as well as USC, rather than manage this transition collaboratively, as is the well- accepted custom and practice in academia.”

The ADCS was formed in 1991 as a cooperative agreement between the National Institute on Aging and UCSD to address treatment for cognitive and behavioral Alzheimer’s symptoms. Aisen was hired in 2007 to head the program, as well as work as a professor of neurology and medicine at UCSD.

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