Skip to content

Office of Technology Transfer Material Transfer Agreements

Transferring Materials In and Out Of NIMH

Note: The information presented on this page has been adapted from materials provided by the NIH Office of Technology Transfer (OTT).

What Is A MTA? A MTA (or Material Transfer Agreement) is a mechanism to facilitate the free transfer of proprietary materials and/or information between NIMH scientists and other institutions, whether for-profit or non-profit institutions. MTAs are used when the following circumstances obtain:
  1. The receiving party wishes to obtain proprietary material and/or information to use for his/her own research purposes.
  2. No research collaboration between the parties is planned.
  3. Neither rights in intellectual property nor rights for commercial purposes may be granted under this type of agreement.
  4. The agreement clearly sets forth the terms and conditions under which the recipient of the material and/or information, provided by either the NIMH scientist or other party, may use it.
Model Material Transfer Requirements The model PHS Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs) include the following requirements:
  • The material and/or information must be used for research purposes only.
  • The material and/or information may not be used in human subjects.
  • Any material received by NIMH scientists that originates from humans must be so identified and is subject to the provisions of 45 CFR Section 46, entitled Protection of Human Subjects. Specifically, if the materials are of direct human origin, then proper Assurance Numbers must be obtained and disclosed.
  • All Material Transfer Agreements (in or out) of human samples or materials derived from human samples must be approved by the IRB. Please contact the IRB (please add link) for details.
How To Initiate A Transfer To initiate a transfer, an interested party may first contact the other party who owns the material and/or information sought. The NIMH Technology Transfer Office is available to help negotiate an acceptable MTA and to advise NIMH scientists in the selection of an appropriate agreement. The Office will negotiate the MTA in conjunction with the technology transfer program manager or other representative having proper signatory authority to legally bind the other party. Otherwise, the MTA is not valid.
Which Agreement To Use?

For Use with Non-Profits
For Use with Non-Profits
  • The PHS model SLA (Simple Letter Agreement) can be used for receiving from or providing materials to non-profit organizations. This is the agreement most commonly used by NIH with non-profit organizations.
  • The PHS model MTA agreement can also be used for receiving or providing materials to non-profit organizations; however, it contains additional clauses which might be needed if a material needs additional protection (is being considered for or is under a patent application, etc.)
  • The UBMTA (Uniform Biological Materials Transfer Agreement) can be used only with non-profit organizations which have signed a Master Agreement with NIH. (See the complete "step by step" instructions (in pdf form) on this web site).

For Use with Companies
For Use with Non-Profits
  • When receiving a material, a non-profit organization may ask you to sign their own agreement. Your lab/branch chief is not authorized to sign this agreement. Please forward it to our office for review and authorization (NIMH Technology Transfer Office, OTT Service Center, 6011 Executive Boulevard, Suite 325, Rockville MD 20852-3804).
For use with For-Profit Organization:
  • When receiving materials from companies for research purposes:
  1. Use the PHS standard MTA without modifications or
  2. Send the organization's MTA to the NIMH Technology Transfer Office ( for review and approval.