Transferring Research Materials

The George Washington University regularly engages in the transfer of scientific materials with other academic and non-profit research institutions. GW occasionally is involved in transfers of materials with commercial for-profit entities.

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are legally binding contracts between GW and another executing party providing for the transfer of materials from the provider organization to the recipient organization. The purpose of the MTA is to protect the intellectual property and ownership rights, as well as other rights, of the provider while permitting research with the material. Failure to follow the terms of an executed MTA could result in significant liabilities as well as impact intellectual property and other rights of the parties involved, including the ability to publish the research.

The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) manages the process for incoming and outgoing Material Transfer Agreements. If you have any questions regarding the process, please e-mail [email protected].

How to Request an MTA

  1. To initiate the material transfer process, please complete the MTA Request Form (DOC) and email it to [email protected].
    • Whether or not the materials are incoming or outgoing, the GW Requesting Scientist should complete the MTA Request and Certification for Material Transfer Agreement Form.
    • If you are not a faculty member, please have your faculty advisor submit the request on your behalf
  2. If materials will be provided to you, please also send OSP any Material Transfer Agreement drafts supplied to you by the Provider. 
  3. Ensure you include the relevant PTA (Project/Task/Award) for any materials you are requesting for use under a Sponsored Project (it is important to review the terms and conditions of the sponsored project for compliance issues).
  4. OSP will use the information on the MTA Request and Certification Form to acquire input from the Office of Lab Safety, Office of Research Integrity, Technology Commercialization Office, Risk Management, and Office of General Counsel and negotiate an MTA with the outside party as needed.  Please be available to answer any questions that may arise in the process. The GW Requesting Scientist will read and acknowledge the terms of the MTA via signature prior to authorizing official approval.
  5. OSP will notify you when the MTA is completed. The GW Requesting Scientist should provide instructions on how to submit the MTA to the outside party (the GW Requesting Scientist often communicates with the outside party directly).


    At this time, you may send or receive the research materials.

An Expedited MTA Process

GW is a signatory to the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) charter.  The most efficient transfer of materials will take place with other institutions that are signatories to the UBMTA charter. Transfers to such institutions require only signing of the Implementation Letter certifying that the recipient organization has accepted and signed an unmodified copy of the UBMTA Master Agreement. 

See the Master UBMTA Agreement Signatories from Association of University Technology Managers' (AUTM) website for a full list of participating entities to the UBMTA.

MTAs for transfers of materials involving non-signatory institutions or companies will take additional time to complete.

It is standard practice that the party providing the materials will provide the proposed form of agreement. Most for-profit entities will have their own form of MTA.