Material Transfer Agreements

Please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office if you wish to send or receive materials from an academic institution or a for-profit organization

To help us expedite the process, please fill out the questionnaire below. MTA's (those originating in your lab or coming from a lab providing a reagent) should be sent to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About MTAs:

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are contracts that govern exchanges of research materials. They specify the rights, obligations and restrictions of both the providing and the receiving parties with respect to ownership, liability, transfer and modifications of the material, rights to inventions resulting from the use of the materials and confidentiality questions.

Exchange of biological materials between academic institutions is relatively straightforward. More than 300 universities in the US have signed the UBMTA (Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement) developed by the Association of Technology Transfer Managers and approved by the NIH. Using UBMTA should expedite the process of negotiating the agreement and will not delay your research.

Exchange of material with for-profit organizations is typically more difficult to negotiate and the Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office will review each agreement carefully.

Sending material to a colleague at an academic institution:

The NIH and the Institute encourage you to share research materials with your academic colleagues. However, you might not be free to share materials developed under a company-sponsored research agreement, materials licensed to a company or materials derived from other materials that you received from an academic or commercial party. The Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office will help you determine if you can share the materials. If you are free to share the materials, the Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office will forward you a simple agreement based on the model provided by the NIH to be signed by both parties.

Sending material to corporate colleagues:

The Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office will negotiate the appropriate Material Transfer Agreement or License Agreement.

Receiving material from a colleague at an academic institution

The Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office and the providing institution will prepare the appropriate agreement, most likely based on the simple agreement proposed by the NIH.

Receiving material from a company:

For material incoming to the Institute from a company, the Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office negotiates on a case-by-case basis. Some of the recurring issues concern confidentiality, delay in publication, intellectual property and replication. A company might request unreasonable delays to review manuscripts before publication or unacceptable ownership over the inventions developed in the laboratory. Also, since many scientific journals require the materials to be available to other academic investigators, a company should be willing to share the materials with other academic institutions. The Intellectual Property and Corporate Ventures Office negotiates the MTA with the company in order to comply with the Institute’s policies and to protect your rights as an inventor and as a scientist.  

Scientists have traditionally shared research material freely, why should I use a MTA?

The frontier between academic research and commercial developments can be very narrow, especially in the field of biomedical research. Sharing materials (such as antibodies, vectors, genome sequence databases…) can lead to valuable discoveries and that invariably leads to the question of ownership and control over these discoveries.

Since the Bayh-Dole act which allowed universities to own and manage inventions made under federally sponsored research, universities have been increasingly using the patent system to transfer research results to the private sector. A company that traditionally had little concern over sharing materials for academic’s use may now be concerned over how its proprietary materials may lead to valuable inventions or even fuel a competitor’s business interest.