Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) POLICY

Summary of Policy

This policy outlines the circumstances in which an MTA is required.

Affected Parties

All Groups

Policy Statement

Material Transfer Agreements

Obtaining a specific Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for each exchange of materials between academic and other non-profit institutions has become an increasingly onerous barrier to the free and open exchange of scientific information and materials. Seeking to affirm that collegiality, science, and sharing should take precedence over commercial considerations among researchers at such institutions, the universities identified below have adopted the following policy:

Subject to our obligations to existing research sponsors and licensees, we agree:

  1. that a specific MTA is not required when our investigators and their research colleagues elsewhere are exchanging non-hazardous or non-human biological materials for in vitro research use; or
  2. when thought to be necessary, that we will use the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) or the Simple Letter Agreement (SLA) recommended by the NIH, whenever possible.

Furthermore, we will encourage our investigators to support the above policy when entering into sponsored agreements that involve transfers of materials.

We agree that if materials are transferred without a specific MTA, the transfer will be presumed to be made under the terms stated in the UBMTA even though no written agreement has been signed. Recipients of biological materials are expected to obtain consent from the original provider before passing materials on to others and to acknowledge the source of the materials in resulting publications and presentations.

We encourage other academic and non-profit institutions to adopt this policy.

  • Addgene
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard University
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • The University of British Columbia
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Yale University


Policy ID


Effective Date

November 18, 2009

Last Revised Date

January 5, 2011


Office of the Provost

Office of Primary Responsibility

Technology Transfer Office (TTO)