The University of Iowa

Material Transfer Agreements

The University of Iowa is a Signatory to the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement

as of December 16, 2005.

What is the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA)?

The UBMTA is a master agreement which serves to simplify the administrative handling of exchanges of biological materials. 

What does it mean that the University of Iowa is a signatory to the UBMTA?

The University of Iowa, including the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF), and other institutions that have signed the UBMTA, can transfer materials under the terms of the UBMTA upon execution of an Implementing Letter for the particular transfer.  This will streamline the process for those participating institutions and expedite the actual exchange of materials i.e., eliminates the need for lengthy reviews.

When should I use the UBMTA?

The UBMTA can normally be used whenever there will be an exchange of biological materials within the nonprofit research community.  Click here to find the list of signatories to the UBMTA.

If you are requesting materials from another institution, you may want to first check the above list of UBMTA signatory institutions. If the institution you are working with has signed the UBMTA, you may wish to ask your contact to check and see if a UBMTA Implementing Letter may be used for this transfer of materials.

The UIRF, which handles agreements for sending materials from The University of Iowa, will also use the Implementing Letter for transfers to UBMTA signatory institutions. 

Whom to Contact if you have questions about a UBMTA or Incoming MTAs?

See the Staff Directory, call 335-2123 or email

Incoming Material Transfer Agreements

You have just read a journal article about someone’s research at another university or a company and you would like to use the materials in your research. Perhaps someone read one of your published articles and they would like to receive your materials. How is the exchange of materials handled? In the past and even sometimes now, the two researchers simply shipped the materials to each other. More likely, the exchange will be done with a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA).

Material Transfer Agreements came about because of intellectual property, confidentiality, and risk concerns of the organizations involved in the transfer of materials. Today most materials are exchanged with Material Transfer Agreements. An incoming MTA is sent to the University of Iowa by the organization providing the materials. The Division of Sponsored Programs reviews and negotiates incoming MTAs in which UI researchers request materials from other organizations. The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) sends outgoing MTAs to the organization requesting materials from the University of Iowa. 

MTAs vary in length and complexity. Some MTAs require no changes while other agreements can be more complex and require negotiation.

For more information about MTAs see:

How incoming MTAs are processed

Usually incoming MTAs are sent to the researcher requesting the materials. The researcher should do the following:

  • Read the MTA. The MTA should be reviewed for adherence to generally accepted practices for the exchange of materials, and also to note particular and unique obligations. The PI should contact the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) with questions or concerns about the terms of the MTA.  DSP will also review the MTA.
  • Attach the MTA to the DSP Non-Monetary Routing Form and include sponsor contact information and any sponsor instructions.
  • Submit the completed Non-Monetary Routing Form to DSP.

If you have questions, you may contact the Division of Sponsored Programs at 319-335-2123 or

Outgoing Material Transfer Agreements

Researchers should contact The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) prior to supplying third parties with material(s) developed at The University of Iowa for the preparation of an outgoing Material Transfer Agreement. In some cases, a fee may be included in these transactions as warranted by the nature of the material(s) and the purpose of the transaction.

The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) is responsible for managing Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) for outgoing materials used by University scientists and staff. The MTA fixes in writing the rights and obligations governing the distribution of biological or chemical substances owned or held by such parties to others. In exchange for granting the right to use the materials, the Providing Party places certain demands on the Receiving Party due to the proprietary nature of the material(s), the Approved Research Plan, or the nature of the transfer itself.

The Providing Scientist should first complete a UIRF MTA Routing form This one-page questionnaire requests information about the Receiving Scientist; the materials and their proposed use(s) by Recipient; on whether they were developed by Providing Scientist or obtained from another party; and on whether the material(s) may be part of a UIRF Invention Disclosure. Once the completed UIRF MTA Routing form is received by the UIRF, you will be contacted by a UIRF staff member who will then complete the Material Transfer Agreement. This Material Transfer Agreement will then be circulated to all parties for execution prior to any transfer of materials.

Send the above information and forms to:

Freda Stelzer
Licensing Assistant, UIRF
2685 UCC
(319) 335-4548