Material transfer agreements

Material transfer agreements

MTA Forms:

MTA approval, incoming materials
MTA approval, outgoing materials

Overview of Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)

MTAs are contracts, generally without cost to the recipient, used to effect the transfer of materials from the owner or authorized licensee to an institution for research purposes.  Materials may be biological or chemical in nature and include the original material, derivatives, and progeny.  MTAs are legally binding agreements and therefore can only be negotiated and signed by authorized University officials.

MTAs  address many important issues, including:  how the materials may be used; ownership of subsequent modifications or improvements; and liability for loss or damage caused in using or storing the material.  While many MTAs are routine, some may require the University to negotiate terms before signing.  For example, the University of Virginia is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia and therefore may not commit to indemnification of an outside party.

The Office of Grants and Contracts is designated to review all SOM MTAs and obtain University-authorized signature.  The office ensures consistency with University guidelines and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.  If you have questions, please contact Grants and Contracts at 434-924-8426.

Procedures for generating an MTA

  • Complete the appropriate Material Transfer Approval Sheet (incoming or outgoing – see links at the top of this page).  Make sure that it is signed and dated by the Principal Investigator (PI).  This form provides background information necessary for review and serves as assurance of the PI's knowledge and approval of the transfer.
  • If transferring or receiving human materials, please include the appropriate IRB approval.
  • For incoming materials, asking the Provider to send an electronic copy of the agreement greatly facilitates the review and revision process.  Complete any information that pertains to the PI.
  • Forward the internal documents to the Office of Grants and Contracts for review and negotiation.  Please make sure to let the contract negotiator know of any important deadline information or special circumstances.
  • If the providing organization has sent its own MTA electronically, please forward that to the appropriate person reviewing the agreement.   If the Provider sent a contract via email, forwarding the message may also expedite the process, as it may contain information regarding that institution’s requirements.


Procedures for generating an MTA Revised Procedures for MTA's involving human-derived materials

Due to recent changes in University policy concerning IRB approval requirements for the use of human subjects data and materials, Grants and Contracts has modified its procedures for processing MTAs acquiring or distributing such data and materials.

If the solicited materials are derived from human subjects, their receipt and use for research will require review by the IRB.  Grants and Contracts will not submit these MTAs for institutional signature without IRB confirmation that: (1) the use is approved; or (2) work with the materials does not constitute human subjects research.

NOTE: For commercially-available materials purchased from a recognized vendor, no IRB review is required.

For instances where the University is sending human-derived material to other institutions, IRB review will also be required to ensure HIPAA compliance.

MTA review and negotiation process

  • The MTA is entered into Grants and Contracts’ document tracking database.
  • Grants and Contracts reviews the MTA request to make sure it contains the necessary information.  You will be asked to provide any missing information. The negotiator reviews the MTA for compliance with applicable law and University policy.  Negotiations will commence if any of the terms require modification.
  • After obtaining School of Medicine approval, the MTA is signed by the authorized institutional representative, in the Office of Sponsored Programs, on behalf of the University of Virginia.
  • The Office of Grants and Contracts will then obtain countersignature from the other party if necessary. When an executed agreement is returned to UVA, Grants and Contracts will retain a copy and a PDF will be sent to the PI for his or her records.


Your responsibilities

Any PI who receives materials under an MTA must ensure that his or her research team understands the requirements of the agreement, including the allowable scope of work for use of materials received, and restrictions on sharing the material or technology with those outside the PI’s laboratory.  Your staff should also understand the importance of having an MTA in place before sending UVA research materials, including research animals.  Non-compliance with the terms of an MTA may result in a legal breach of agreement by the University.