Material Transfer Agreements - FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions


Basic Information

What is a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?

An MTA is a legally binding contract used to effect the transfer of research materials from the material provider to the recipient.  The materials may range from biological materials to chemical compounds to certain equipment.

Does UCR require an executed MTA for incoming transfers of materials to my lab even though the material provider does not?

Except for the transfer of human tissues an human embryonic stem cells, UCR policy does not require an executed MTA for incoming materials being transferred from the material provider. However, there are certain potential risks to consider when not requesting one, namely:

  • You may be precluded from publishing the results of your research in cases where you received the material directly from a colleague or other source without obtaining authorized permission from the entity who owns the materials.
  • You may be subject to personal liability if you use materials from a colleague or other source without obtaining authorized permission from the entity who owns the materials.

Why does UCR require an MTA for outgoing materials being transferred from my lab to a researcher affiliated with another institution or entity?

An MTA protects UCR and the UCR providing researcher against any claims that may arise through the recipient's use, storage, and/or disposal of the material received from UCR.  An MTA also allows the use of the materials be limited to specific projects and precludes the further transfer of the materials to non-approved recipients.

Can the Principal Investigator (PI) execute the MTA on behalf of UCR?

No; such authority has not been delegated to PIs by The Regents.  Rather, material transfer officials in The Office of Research and Economic Development are the only authorized signatories to sign MTAs on behalf of the University.  PIs may, however, sign an acknowledgement block certifying that they have read the terms of the MTA and understand their obligations to comply with its terms and conditions.

What if I want to continue using incoming materials for future research following the conclusion of the project under which they were initially received?

Please contact  Material transfer agreements typically authorize the use of the provided materials solely for the research use identified at the time of the initial request and as referenced in the MTA.  In such instances where continued use of the materials is desired for other research purposes or projects, the MTA may need to be amended to permit such additional use(s) of the materials.


On-Line Material Transfer Request System

Can my post-doctorate or other lab personnel initiate a request for the transfer of materials on my behalf?

Yes.  Should a PI desire to have a post-doc or other lab personnel assist in preparing the on-line material transfer request, the SAA of the PI's department will first need to assign such post-doc or lab personnel with the 'MTA Initiator' role within EACS.  (Note:  Even though the MTA Initiator can initiate the request by completing certain fields in the On-Line Material Transfer Request System, such material transfer request will subsequently route directly to the PI for approval before any further routing of the request can occur.)

Does the PI's department SAA need to provide the PI with access, via EACS, to the new On-Line Material Transfer Request System before the PI can begin using it, even though the PI already has access to the eCAF (electronic Campus Approval Form) system?

The SAA does not need to give a PI access to the On-Line Material Transfer Request System if the PI is already set-up as a PI in EACS for the eCAF system.

How do I access the On-Line Material Transfer Request System?

The system can easily be accessed through or by clicking 'Material Transfer Request System' via the PAMIS (Proposal and Award Management Information Systems) Portal from the Authorized Applications section in R'Space (

How do I know where my material transfer request is in the approval process?

The "Approvals" tab of the on-line request provides a graphical representation of the material transfer routing and approval system, with a white box highlighting its current location along the approval path.

I received an automated email advising that the material transfer request received final approval, so why hasn't the MTA been executed yet?

The execution of an MTA may be delayed in the event there are any outstanding terms and conditions under negotiation.  Once fully executed, a material transfer official will email a copy of the signed MTA to the PI.

Is there a cost associated with getting an MTA processed?

No.  However, a material provider may charge a transmission fee to cover the cost of shipping the material to the recipient.

Who do I contact to inquire about the status of my MTA?

Please send an email to; such inquiries are monitored by all MTA Officers in the Office of Research and Economic Development.

Why does the UCR providing scientist of outgoing materials need to identify the source of funds under which the materials were developed at UCR?

The MTA Officer needs to know what funding was used to support the research under which the UCR materials may have been developed to ensure that there are no conflicting obligations between the rights UC has already granted the funding sponsor and the rights UCR may grant to the recipient of the UCR materials.

Why does the UCR recipient scientist need to identify any grant or other funding sources for the project under which the incoming materials will be used?

The MTA Officer needs to know what funding will be used to support your research using the material to ensure that there are no conflicts between those rights UCR may grant to the funding sponsor and those rights UCR may grant to the provider of the materials.