Do I Need a Material Transfer Agreement

Do I Need a Material Transfer Agreement? The Answer May Surprise You!

If you`re a scientist, researcher, or lab technician who works with biological materials, you may have heard of a material transfer agreement (MTA). But do you really need one? The answer is yes, more often than not.

An MTA is a legal contract that governs the transfer of biological materials, such as cell lines, plasmids, or mice, from one researcher to another. The purpose of an MTA is to ensure that the material is used for the intended research purpose only and that any intellectual property rights are protected.

When Should You Use an MTA?

You should use an MTA whenever you are transferring biological material to another researcher, whether they work in the same lab or a different institution. An MTA is especially important if your research involves patented or proprietary materials or if the material is subject to export control regulations.

MTAs are also necessary when collaborating with researchers from different countries or institutions. Different institutions may have different policies on the use and distribution of biological material, and an MTA can help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

What Should Be Included in an MTA?

An MTA should include several key elements to protect both parties involved in the transfer. These include:

– Description of the material: This should include the type of material being transferred, such as cell lines or plasmids, as well as any identifying information.

– Conditions of the transfer: This should include any restrictions on the use of the material, such as limitations on the number of times it can be used or how it can be shared with others.

– Intellectual property rights: This should address any potential copyright or patent issues, including who owns the rights to any discoveries or inventions that result from the use of the material.

– Liability and indemnification: This should outline the responsibilities of both parties in the event of any damages or injuries resulting from the use of the material.

– Governing law: This should specify the jurisdiction under which the MTA will be governed.


In summary, an MTA is an essential tool for anyone working with biological materials, particularly when collaborating with other researchers or institutions. It can protect both parties involved in the transfer and ensure that the material is used for its intended research purpose. If you`re unsure whether you need an MTA, it`s always better to err on the side of caution and speak with a legal professional who can guide you through the process.

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