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Cancer Researcher Sued Again

UPenn has filed suit against the president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for failing to share intellectual property he developed while at the university.

By | February 27, 2012

image: Cancer Researcher Sued Again Wikimedia Commons

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City has been slapped with a lawsuit by the University of Pennsylvania for allegedly failing to share intellectual property with the school. This doubles the legal trouble for former UPenn cancer researcher Craig Thompson, who was sued to the tune of $1 billion by the university-affiliated Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute for similar reasons last December.

The lawsuits allege that Thompson's improperly exploited research into cancer cell metabolism by helping to launch a pharmaceutical company, Agios, which filed for patents on the discoveries.

UPenn's beef with Thompson is that he "breached his fiduciary duty to the university" by "failing to disclose to the university research and discoveries," according to ScienceInsider. In short, the suit alleges that Thompson went behind the university's back to cash in on his scientific work, essentially cutting UPenn out of potential profits. The Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, which Thompson used to direct, makes similar claims in its suit, and both parties list Agios as a defendant.

Both Thompson and Agios are denying that they are guilty of any wrongdoing. "I believe the allegations of Penn's complaint to be without merit, both factually and legally," Thompson told ScienceInsider. "I am very disappointed that Penn chose to file its lawsuit without making any effort to speak with me or ascertain the true facts before filing a suit that unjustly harms my reputation." An Agios spokesperson simply told ScienceInsider that the company "believes it has done nothing wrong…and fully expects to be vindicated."

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Comments

Avatar of: verynaive

verynaive

Posts: 7

February 27, 2012

instead of making scientific discoveries available to the public who funds it, university and researcher fight for the profit. What can one say to that?

Avatar of: Eric Gosink

Eric Gosink

Posts: 2

February 27, 2012

As a federally funded institution, universities like UPenn
are charged by the government to (a) not restrict public disclosures, and (b) to
put the technology into the hands of companies most capable and likely to bring
research results to the shelves of consumers. 
When companies develop new ideas, they (a) want to restrict or control access
to those results, and (b) are not required to develop a product if the work
doesn’t line up with their current product focus.  This is why universities sometimes have to
assert their government mandated rights to make sure publicly funded discoveries
are being put to the best use.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

February 27, 2012

instead of making scientific discoveries available to the public who funds it, university and researcher fight for the profit. What can one say to that?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

February 27, 2012

As a federally funded institution, universities like UPenn
are charged by the government to (a) not restrict public disclosures, and (b) to
put the technology into the hands of companies most capable and likely to bring
research results to the shelves of consumers. 
When companies develop new ideas, they (a) want to restrict or control access
to those results, and (b) are not required to develop a product if the work
doesn’t line up with their current product focus.  This is why universities sometimes have to
assert their government mandated rights to make sure publicly funded discoveries
are being put to the best use.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

May 2, 2012

The university and researcher will continue to fight endlessly; it's in the nature of their roles to fight for profit. However, we should let the scientific discoveries be available to the public until at least a winner is decided. :)

Avatar of: Rachel Erin Reyes

Rachel Erin Reyes

Posts: 1457

May 2, 2012

The university and researcher will continue to fight endlessly; it's in the nature of their roles to fight for profit. However, we should let the scientific discoveries be available to the public until at least a winner is decided. :)

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