Material Transfer Agreement

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) protect the intellectual property rights of Boston University and Boston University Medical School and/or Boston Medical Center (“BMC”), in unique materials you have created.  In rare cases, an MTA can be used to transfer unique materials that you possess in your lab but that you did not create.  In those cases, we must process an incoming MTA that defines our rights to redistribute the materials before an outgoing MTA can be processed.  A MTA should never be used for materials that are readily available from commercial sources.  In that situation, the third party wanting the material should obtain those materials directly from the commercial source.

An MTA may also provide important protections against liability for the University and/or BMC with respect to the materials transferred.  Additionally, MTAs specify what the recipient of the materials can, and often more importantly, cannot do with them.  These exact terms will in some cases require significant negotiations with the third party.  These negotiations may delay your transfer.  For some biological materials, there are generic terms that have been accepted by numerous Universities and other third parties.  If the criteria are met, these transfers can be processed fairly quickly.  Please see the AUTM website for a discussion of when this process can be used.

Technology Development is responsible for outgoing MTAs only.  That is, we assist with the transfer of your materials to a third party.  Sponsored Programs manages all incoming MTAs.

In order to assist you in transferring your materials to others we have designed a fillable PDF form that helps identify some key information our office requires to process the material transfer.  This form can only be properly used in combination with Adobe® products.  It will not work properly with other PDF readers. The form is located here and is entitled: Material Transfer Agreement Request.  Instructions on how to obtain a free copy of Adobe Reader and other helpful hints on our fillable PDF forms can be found here:  When you have completed the form, hit the “Submit” button at the end of the form.  Hitting the “Submit” button will create an email directed to our office that contains the completed form as an attachment.  You can edit the e-mail if you so desire and then send the e-mail to our forms inbox for processing.

Please note that if the form is not completed, hitting the “Submit” button will not create the e-mail.  Rather, a prompt will appear and within the form you will see highlighted questions that were not answered.  Please complete the answers to those questions and then hit the ‘Submit’ button again.

As stated, the fillable PDF form is designed to identify issues that require our attention prior to shipping, or when shipping the materials.  However, in some cases, no issues are identified.  For those limited situations, upon attempting to submit a properly completed form you will be advised that a formal material transfer agreement with the third party is unnecessary and that you may immediately ship your materials.  Those cases are rare and in any event, we ask that the form be submitted to our office so that we have a record of the transfer.   Also, if you prefer, you can request that we nevertheless prepare a formal MTA.  For example, a formal MTA may be desired where the material is to be again transferred because the recipient may need or want a writing that confirms its rights to again transfer the material.

In order to complete a proper transfer, it is important that our office possesses a clear understanding of the contemplated transaction.  Our form is designed to walk you through the key questions that provide us with essential information needed to process your transfer request.  Once received, we’ll work with you to resolve any issues that are identified, work with the recipient institution to execute and appropriate MTA and assist in notifying the proper persons that handle shipping of the materials.

Please be advised that for certain materials, the process can be quite complex.  For example, human tissues require Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval.  If such transfers are not clearly within the scope of a patient consent, the process of either interpreting the consent with respect to the contemplated transaction or obtaining a proper patient consent can be time consuming and can significantly delay the transfer of the material.  To assist us in expediting your request, we recommend that you consult with the IRB with respect to the specific material transfer before submitting your request for a transfer of human tissues to our office.  This will allow us to merely confirm with the IRB that the transfer is permitted and hence will not significantly delay the processing of your transfer request by our office.

Also, it has been our experience that the transfer of animals (such as mice) can be complex and requires a substantial period of time for review and approval.  You should bear in mind that for animal transfers, title to the animal is an important consideration.  If the University does not own the animal, we must have an appropriate incoming MTA that permits the transfer of the animal to third parties.   Moreover, even in circumstances where the University possesses title to the animal, in some situations the transaction by which the University purchased the animal (or otherwise acquired title) contains restrictions on further transfers.  In such cases, a waiver of these obligations will require negotiations with the commercial vendor or third party.  Hence, we recommend that you review the background of the animal before submitting your request so that resolution of these issues does not delay your transfer request.

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