Material Transfer Agreements and Research Tools Licenses

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Important Information
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A cornerstone of science is the concept of collegiality and the sharing of research materials to advance the discovery process. The materials that you as a researcher create at UAB are often of great value to other researchers in the field. These materials are termed "research tools" by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Research tools include but are not limited to mice, embryonic stem cells, vectors, plasmids, viruses, cell lines, bacteria, pharmaceutical compounds, and tissue samples. To facilitate the sharing and transfer of unique research tools among nonprofit entities, UAB requires that a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) or similar agreement be signed by both the provider and the recipient entity. These agreements serve to memorialize the transfer and provide documentation that allows for the determination and protection of rights and ownership with respect to the material and any associated intellectual property.

A common misconception is that the MTA process can be completed within a day or less. Because an MTA is a legal contract, it requires a review of the identity of the materials to be transferred as well as a review of the terms of the agreement to ensure that, where possible, they are consistent with UAB policies, NIH guidelines, state and federal law, and any additional conditions included in funding agreements.

Common issues that affect the processing of an MTA include:

• 2022 incomplete submission;
• 2022 incorrect/inaccurate listing of material to be sent or received;
• 2022 third-party rights to material incorporated in what will be transferred; and
• 2022 terms in the MTA that require negotiation to be acceptable.

In addition to the above issues, these agreements are also subject to a similar review process at the cooperating institution. To assist in the timely processing of your MTA submission, please take the time to read the instructions on the submission form before completing. If you have any questions regarding the form or the material to be sent, contact The UAB Research Foundation (UABRF). To learn more about MTAs and to access the necessary forms to request processing of an MTA, click here.

In situations where the material is to be sent from UAB to a commercial entity, a Research Tools License is used. This agreement contains many of the conditions that are included in the standard MTA and also includes terms appropriate to the production, use, and commercial sale of the material. Some Research Tools Licenses require only an upfront license fee. Others—for example, most licenses for the production of monoclonal antibodies—include provisions for license maintenance fees and a royalty income stream. The companion article in this newsletter ("Striking Back Against S. pneumoniae") provides a good example of a situation that called for Research Tools Licenses.

When you receive material from another institution, be sure to take the time to review the MTA. While many transfers use a standard agreement, others often have custom agreements. Common restrictions or terms in custom agreements include a restriction on the projects in which the material can be used, limited term of use (for example, one or three years), and the obligation to provide drafts of manuscripts for review prior to publication. Also, please note that materials obtained from commercial entities or repositories often have restrictions on further distribution that can complicate the MTA process.

Posted on 8/17/2009 10:35:00 AM