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Memo on Use of MTAs

Are MTAs necessary?

Not always. Stanford encourages researchers to share laboratory materials without agreements, when possible. 


July 12, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to bring this information about our policies and procedures related to Material Transfer Agreements to your attention.

Stanford encourages the free exchange of information and materials with research colleagues, whether these colleagues are at other academic or non-profit institutions or in industry. The growing practice of using MTAs when non-human, biological material is shared for in vitro research purposes has become a barrier to these interactions. We have worked with our peer institutions to eliminate the use of MTAs whenever possible and to rely instead on the longstanding practice of publicly acknowledging colleagues for materials they have provided in papers and presentations. Accordingly, Stanford does not require or encourage the use of an MTA when you are giving non-human, biological material to be used for in vitro research purposes to your research colleagues. Restrictions to keep materials or research results confidential generally are not appropriate between academic researchers, and are usually not necessary between academic and industry researchers.

If circumstances require an MTA, the Simple Letter Agreement (SLA) or the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) should be used without changes. The SLA and UBMTA forms are available on the Industrial Contracts Office (ICO) website. In the rare instance that modifications are appropriate, the revisions must be approved by the Industrial Contracts Office.

NOTE: (1) the transfer of human biologic material and specimens and materials for use in humans is governed by separate regulations (please refer to Stanford's Research Compliance Office and Human Tissue Transfers) and (2) the transfer of any materials funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is subject to special MTA requirements (Contact ICO for instructions).

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.


Ann M. Arvin, M.D.

Lucile Salter Packard Professor of Pediatrics and
Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Stanford University School of Medicine
G-311, 650-498-6227

Vice Provost and Dean of Research
Stanford University
Building 10, 650-725-4421


A number of other universities support this MTA policy. 

Please note that agreements are required when: