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UCSD loses majority of funding, sponsors in dispute with USC over Alzheimer’s project

By David Schwartz
Published: September 2nd, 2015

In the continuing dispute between the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) over a major Alzheimer’s research project, the latter institute has recently lost most of the funding from its initial sponsors.

Though UCSD has seen victories in court, such as a San Diego Superior Court judge granting it continued control of the Alzheimer’s project, it is losing most of its contracts with the program’s participants across the U.S.

USC says it has secured eight of the project’s 10 key contracts, having convinced sponsors that it is more prepared to manage their clinical trials on potential treatments for the neurological disease. Those sponsors are in effect breaking from UCSD’s Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) and shifting to a research center that USC recently opened in San Diego.

According to USC, the contract transfers are worth up to $93.5 million. Though UCSD officials are calling it an overstatement, they concede that they failed to properly manage the Alzheimer’s project. Nonetheless, they are confident about rebooting it on campus.

“The ADCS is alive and well at UCSD,” says neuroscientist William Mobley, the program’s interim co-director.

The conflict began when Dr. Paul Aisen, an accomplished Alzheimer’s researcher who directed the program at UCSD, resigned in June to become head of the new USC institute, taking the program’s computers and data with him. His former employer is claiming that Aisen, his colleagues and USC conspired to siphon the program’s funding and sponsors, which include pharma giant Eli Lilly, the Alzheimer’s Association, the U.S. Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health.

The Superior Court judge who granted UCSD continued control of the project has ordered USC to surrender whatever assets it took. The case could lead to a jury trial or, as USC has requested, be moved to federal court.

Mobley says that at this point in the dispute, his job is simply to make sure the Alzheimer’s project at UCSD continues with minimal obstruction for researchers and patients.

“I don’t need any more trouble,” Mobley says. “My goal is to say, ‘If these folks are leaving, let’s help them get out the door safely and well. Let’s not quibble and fight about every last thing. Let’s get to the business of helping people with Alzheimer’s.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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