Deal gives UCSD "read only" rights to Alzheimer's data

Legal war between San Diego university and Los Angeles's USC continues

According to a newly lodged agreement in federal court here, USC will be holding on to a Bitbucket load of data it controls in the school's bitter court battle with the University of Southern California over the exit of Alzheimer’s expert Paul Aisen and a raft of high-profile staffers last summer.

At the same time, the Los Angeles school has agreed to allow UCSD staffers to have limited access to the information, as well as control of one study’s data.

Paul Aisen

Paul Aisen

The saga began in June, when UCSD filed suit against USC for allegedly stealing Aisen, his research team, and a trove of valuable data. On August 4, a state superior-court judge ordered the Los Angeles university to return to UCSD the electronic access to computer databases full of information from the federally funded Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study headed by Aisen.

The case was subsequently moved to federal court here, where a so-called Early Neutral Evaluation Conference was held between the parties January 4 following complaints by lawyers for UCSD that USC hadn't complied with the turnover order.

Lawyers for the Los Angeles school argued that nobody remained at UCSD to properly maintain the data.

According to the January 11 stipulation, USC will transfer certain data, referred to as "code-breakers," from six studies to a new account to be set up by an agent of the court on the online data repository known as Github.

USC and Aisen's group, the document says, "will have administrative control over and exclusively maintain this new Github account."

In turn, UCSD will be given "read-only" access to "the modified Github account, which includes the source code and revision history."

Also, USC has agreed to allow UCSD to have read-only access to related accounts on other data services, including Bitbucket and Google.

UCSD is to be provided with "full administrative control and access over the Amazon virtual machine for the Toyama study,” and  will "establish and exclusively maintain” a Toyama study Github account.

Toyama Chemical Company, subsidiary of the Japanese giant Fujifilm, is paying for the so-called NOBLE study, conducting a patient trial of the investigational drug T-817MA to "protect against neuron loss,” according to the NOBLE website.

The stipulation between USC and UCSD says that, "All activities to be conducted under this agreement are subject to the supervision of Special Master David Garrett and consultant Dr. Karl Kieburtz as needed," according to the stipulation.

USC "will be permitted to take snap shots of the status of all accounts at the time they provide the above-described access to [UCSD] to preserve the current state of these accounts and the information contained therein for evidentiary purposes in this or any related litigation, and for no other purpose."

The agreement does not spell an end the explosive legal battle between the parties.

"Nothing herein shall be deemed an admission or waiver of any sort, and this agreement is without prejudice to the parties’ positions and arguments in the litigation," says the one-page stipulation.

A telephonic conference call is to take place "as soon as possible to discuss an implementation plan for these actions to occur by February 15 and the parties agree to fully cooperate as necessary to accomplish the above actions within the agreed upon timeline."

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