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."