Material Transfer Agreement FAQ’s

A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a contract that governs the transfer of tangible research materials between two organizations. MTAs set out the protections, rights, and obligations of both parties.  

Such issues as confidentiality, publication rights, ownership and licensing rights of any intellectual property, limitations on use of the requested materials, liability and indemnification are often addressed in a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). The terms of an MTA can impact your research in unforeseen ways. For example, Industrial MTAs, and even some academic MTAs, may contain language that conflicts with basic academic rights or that places unnecessary restrictions on investigators. Companies may ask to own all rights to inventions arising from use of the material or prohibit your ability to publish the results of your research. For these reasons, OTM reviews, negotiates, and approves all MTAs. Each MTA is different and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the terms used in the agreement, the investigator’s obligations to the sponsor(s) of the research, and the use the investigator plans for the material.

Transferring material to another institution or company

For the transfer of Basic Research Tools from Washington University in St. Louis to other academic/non-profit recipients, you may use the Washington University Quick MTA form, provided that the material qualifies (see WUSTL Quick MTA section for determining if your material qualifies).

For all other outbound transfers of materials please inform OTM. The university requires that you work through OTM because these agreements involve important rights and legal obligations.

Outgoing MTA Process

  1. For Previously Disclosed Material – Complete Outgoing MTA Request Form and submit via email
    For New Material – Complete Outgoing MTA Request Form and Materials Disclosure Form
    (You need do this only once for a given material) and submit via email
  2. OTM will draft appropriate MTA and forward to the recipient
  3. OTM will negotiate terms of the agreement with the recipient
  4. OTM will obtain necessary signatures to execute the MTA
  5. Upon execution you will receive a copy of the fully executed agreement
  6. Then you are free to send the materials to the recipient

Receiving material from another institution or company

The process for receiving materials from another institution differs slightly from the process for receiving materials from industry:

For Materials from Academic / Non-Profit / Government Institutions:

If you are interested in obtaining materials from another academic, non-profit or government institution, please forward the following information via e-mail.

  1. A completed Incoming Academic MTA Form.
  2. An electronic version of the provider’s MTA (preferably in an editable MS Word format). Note, the MTA is normally supplied by the provider of the material and you should obtain the MTA from the provider prior to initiating the request with OTM.

Upon receipt of the above information, the agreement will be reviewed by OTM to determine if the agreement terms are acceptable under university policy. If acceptable, the agreement will be prepared for signature by OTM. If the terms are not acceptable, OTM will begin the negotiation process with the provider in order to revise the unacceptable terms.

For Materials from Industry:

If you are interested in obtaining materials from Industry, please forward via e-mail the following information.

  1. A completed Incoming Industry MTA Form.
  2. An electronic version of the provider’s MTA (preferably in an editable MS Word format). Note, the MTA is normally supplied by the provider of the material and you should obtain the MTA from the provider prior to initiating the request with OTM.
  3. A statement of work or research proposal describing the intended research you plan to conduct with the requested materials (unless this information is already provided in the actual MTA itself). This statement of work  should be specific to the planned research giving the steps and anticipated outcome of the research. It is important to avoid broad, vague descriptions such as “experiments in mice” or “study of breast cancer”, etc., as we are often granting rights to inventions developed in your research, thus a specific description is always preferred.

Upon receipt of the above information, the agreement will be reviewed by OTM to determine if the agreement terms are acceptable under university policy. Nearly all Industry MTAs will require that OTM negotiate the terms of the agreement to modify provisions that are contrary to both the usual protections for the university and the protections and academic freedoms for you as an academic researcher.

WUSTL Quick MTA

The WUSTL Quick MTA has been developed in an effort to simplify the process of sending basic research tools from Washington University to other academic and non-profit researchers. Any Washington University Principal Investigator (PI), may use this form if all of the conditions 1 through 3 below are met (if a university PI has an HHMI affiliation see note below*).

  1. The Material will be transferred to a recipient who:
    a. is a PI in a non-profit and/or educational research institution only; and
    b. plans to use the material for non-commercial academic research purposes only; and
    c. will not use the material for research, testing, or treatment involving human subjects or for making any decisions relating to human diagnosis or care.
  2. The Material:
    a. was created at Washington University under the supervision of a university PI;
    b. does not contain, in whole or in part, any material that was received from another party under an agreement (e.g., other MTAs, sponsored research agreements, or commercial purchases with use limitations) that  prohibits redistribution or further transfer of such material;
    c. does not contain fluorescent proteins (e.g. GFP, etc.) ; or TET-System components; and
  3. The Material is NOT:
    a. human derived tissues, fluids, or samples of any kind; nor
    b. a controlled substance containing pathogens or other harmful biological agents subject to special guidelines and/or procedures; nor
    c. described in, nor is part of, a previous Invention Disclosure that the university is protecting or has protected under one or more patents or pending patents; nor
    d. exclusively licensed by Washington University to another party.

If the material you plan to send meets ALL of the above criteria, you may proceed to use the WUSTL Quick-MTA:

  1. Complete the relevant information in the WUSTL Quick-MTA;
  2. Make two (2) copies of the completed WUSTL Quick-MTA ;
  3. Enclose one copy of the completed first page of the WUSTL Quick-MTA prominently on top of or as a label onto the shipment of material; and
  4. retain the remaining copy for your departmental/laboratory records (see note below**).
  5. Send the material, with the WUSTL Quick-MTA enclosed, to the recipient.

If the material does not meet all of the above criteria, you have special concerns about your material, or you wish to send material to a for-profit company, please send the completed Outgoing MTA Questionnaire Form and any pertinent correspondence from the requestor of the material to OTM via email. OTM will then draft and send to the requestor the appropriate agreement, based on the details of the transfer.

* Note HHMI Investigators: In addition to Washington University policies, university investigators that are affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) are also subject to HHMI policies for sending materials that meet the above criteria. HHMI Investigators may use this form, provided you check the box indicating your HHMI affiliation and send a copy of the fully executed WUSTL Quick-MTA to your HHMI MAS. If the material does not meet all of the above criteria, you have special concerns about your material, or you wish to send the material to a for-profit company, please email OTM a completed Outbound MTA Intake Form (top of this page) and any pertinent correspondence from the requestor of the material. OTM will then draft and send to the requestor the appropriate agreement, approved by HHMI, based on the details of the transfer.

**Note: Investigators sending materials under the Washington University Quick-MTA are responsible for maintaining their own records regarding materials sent under this expedited MTA process and should follow their departmental policies on record retention. OTM will not be maintaining any records of transfer of material made under the Washington University Quick-MTA.

For additional information, please see OTM’s Frequently Asked Questions.

For additional assistance, please Email OTM or phone at 314.747.0920.

Stanford Material Transfer Consortium

The Stanford Material Transfer Consortium is a group of universities that agreed in advance to allow their researchers to share tangible research materials among those universities without the use of material transfer agreements for in vitro research of non-human biological materials. Please review the Material Transfer Agreement Document for a list of the signatories.


National Institutes of Health Transfer Agreement Dashboard

Washington University in St. Louis is registered as a participating organization with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Transfer Agreement Dashboard (TAD). The TAD is a web-based system hosted by the NIH to facilitate the completion and tracking of MTAs for materials transferred out of the NIH. The NIH initiated the TAD project in response to the growing number of MTAs between institutions. The TAD system will automate and simplify the MTA management process when requesting materials from participating NIH Institutes.

Some benefits of TAD include:

  • Easy-to-use web forms help users provide the information necessary to complete an MTA.
  • Increase researchers’ access to the status of their MTA(s).
  • Investigators and technology transfer staff can access up-to-date information regarding MTA status, and who they should contact if they have questions at any stage.
  • Alerts are sent to the parties involved in an MTA at different stages of the process to keep them updated, and to let them know if further action is required.
  • Depending on the material being transferred, the system automatically routes the agreement to receive appropriate approvals and signatures.
  • An electronic signature provides a method for confirming acceptance of a document without the need for a wet ink signature, or the purchase of digital certificates.

Important Information:

  • Currently, TAD is only available for use with Materials requested from participating NIH Institutes.
  • You must first register as an individual user under a participating organization (Washington University in St. Louis) before you can use the expedited TAD MTA process.
  • Please contact NIHTAD Support for:
    Answers to any additional questions about how to get involved
    Questions, comments, or suggestions about the TAD website
    Any other general inquiries related to TAD
  • Please contact NIH IT Service Desk for:
    Technical issues experienced during your visit to the site
    Issues or concerns regarding accessibility of the site