Material Transfer

What is it?

A material transfer agreement (MTA) is a legally binding contract established for the transfer of research material between institutions. The MTA defines and sets forth the conditions for sharing the intellectual property (IP) of Jefferson. It also addresses other property rights of the parties, as needed.

An MTA is required for any biological material transferred out of Jefferson and is preferred for any biological material transferred into Jefferson. MTAs can also be used to document the transfers of chemicals (e.g., pharmaceuticals) and devices.

How long does it take?

The processing time for an MTA can vary widely. For example, the MTA review process usually takes longer when the provider is a for-profit entity, because the company usually stipulates more restrictions regarding rights to potential IP, confidentiality and review of proposed publications. In addition, the MTA review process may take more time when the provider is not the owner. In the latter case, the owning institution is typically contacted to provide permission for the transfer.

The process may be shorter when the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) is used. The UBMTA is a template agreement created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help expedite the MTA process and to which many academic institutions are signatories. Jefferson prefers to use the UBMTA Master Agreement or the UBMTA Implementing Letter.

What does the Innovation team need from me?

When requesting a transfer of materials, we need the following information:

  • A completed, signed MTA Questionnaire (Materials In) or MTA Questionnaire (Materials Out) for materials to be transferred into or out of Jefferson, respectively. When we receive the completed questionnaire, a new case number is assigned and docketed for the requested MTA; then, we initiate the MTA process.
  • Any correspondence you have had with the other institution and/or the other institution's principle investigator (or other person requesting or providing the material), and any other documents, such as the other institution's template MTA.
  • For materials to be transferred out of Jefferson, a copy of the first publication describing the first creation of the material, or any similar documented proof of Jefferson's ownership right to distribute the material. If the material was created at a different institution, then we need the names of the institution and the person who created the material so the recipient can contact the owning institution for permission for the transfer.
  • If the requested material is a research animal, such as a laboratory mouse strain, you should contact Jefferson's Office of Animal Resources (secured page) at the same time when contacting us.

What do you do with the information?

We conduct a simple evaluation process. When Jefferson is the recipient (Material In), we verify the funding source of the research in which the material will be used and evaluate the circumstances of the requested transfer.

For example, in some cases, the provider is not the owner of the material, meaning the material was first created by a third-party institution. In those cases, the provider institution may not have the right to distribute the material, so we must obtain separate permission from the owner, which may require a separate MTA with the owner.

When Jefferson is the provider (Material Out), we verify the ownership of the material and our right to legally distribute the material. For example, when Jefferson is not the owner of the material, we will request that the recipient contact the owner for permission for the transfer.  If Jefferson is the owner of the material and the recipient is a signatory of the UBMTA, Jefferson prefers to use the UBMTA Implementing Letter, which certifies that both parties agree to the terms of the UBMTA. If the recipient is not a signatory of the UBMTA, Jefferson will propose to use the UBMTA Master Agreement, which states the full terms of the UBMTA.

Is there a fee?

Occasionally a fee is applied. If Jefferson is providing the material, the Jefferson PI may request a fee to reimburse for costs associated with the material. The fee will be agreed upon before the MTA is signed, but it is not required until the MTA is signed. However, the PI will not ship the material until we receive the fee payment.

If the fee is more than $1,000, the fee will be distributed according to the Jefferson Patent Policy. If the fee is less than or equal to $1,000, the PI has the option to request that the Innovation team deposits the fee to the PI's laboratory account for reimbursement of the material preparation costs.

How do I get the MTA signed?

Once the MTA terms are agreed upon, the Innovation team initiates and manages the signature process. We first require the PIs receiving and providing the materials sign the MTA recognizing the MTA terms. The Innovation team signs the MTA on behalf of Jefferson, and usually an authorized signatory of the other party must sign. 

Have other Questions?

Check out our Material Transfer FAQs for additional information.