When is an MTA Needed?

MTAs are used for a wide variety of research materials, including biological materials (e.g., unique plasmids or viral vectors, cell lines, tissues, and genetically modified animals), unique reagents, chemicals, and engineered materials. Generally speaking, an MTA is needed whenever there is a material transfer that is not covered by any other agreement (e.g., purchase order/procurement, grant award, or sponsored clinical trial). An MTA should be in place BEFORE the transfer happens.

Common instances that require an MTA:

  • Ordering a plasmid, cell line, or compound from a central repository (e.g., Addgene, NCI’s Development Therapeutics Program), even if a fee is charged
  • Sending research material developed at VCU to a researcher interested in using it in his/her own research (and vice versa)
  • Receiving compounds from a pharmaceutical company for an investigator-initiated study
  • Sending specimens to an academic collaborator for analysis

Common instances that do NOT require an MTA:

  • Purchasing compounds or animals from a commercial (for-profit) vendor
  • Receiving material from a company that is sponsoring the project in which the material will be used (e.g., receiving drugs for an industry-sponsored clinical trial)
  • Sending specimens to a commercial lab for analysis
  • Sending or receiving material that is readily available from multiple sources

When a VCU investigator is seeking materials from an outside entity, an “incoming MTA” is needed. When a VCU investigator is sending materials to an outside researcher, an “outgoing” MTA is needed.

If you are using materials obtained under an MTA, please review the terms and conditions of that agreement to ensure that VCU does not break its contractual obligations with the other organization. MTAs that involve human or animal research or hazardous materials may require additional approvals before the MTAs are executed and the materials transferred.