University Of Oxford Material Transfer Agreement

Two cases have been reported that could cause concern to the research community. A University of Pittsburgh researcher has been prosecuted for mail fraud for ordering microbial documents from the American Type Culture Collection with his approved institutional account on behalf of another researcher at an unauthorized institution, in violation of an MTA that prohibited the transmission of materials to third parties[ 43]. The complaint was dismissed because of the lack of evidence of a misrepresentation, and the observation that the indictment did not state that one of the researchers «was even aware of the transfer restriction». In the second case, New York State University attempted to lay off an employee because it created a mouse sales and shipping company owned by Upstate Medical University, which billed the shipping costs for a State University grant contract and did not hold the university MTAs [44]. The judge found that, as he did not intend to benefit personally, he believed that his business would benefit the university and provide financial support to his research, and the university administrators were aware of his actions if he was suspended and not dismissed [ 44]. Again, these two cases do not pose significant risks to researchers, given the huge number of transactions conducted through research instruments in the United States. The teaching for IKMC and IMPC is that simple and uniform conditions for the deposit of mutant mice in archives, such as those used at JAX, have a knock-on effect that allows for equally simple distribution conditions (Fig. 1), thereby reducing transaction costs and the complexities associated with the shared use of research reagents. Indeed, the major research universities in North America are further reducing the administrative burden by not using MTA for the exchange of non-hazardous or non-interpersonal biological materials. In other circumstances, research organizations may use standard agreements such as UBMTA or simple letter agreement to improve administrative efficiency (Box 2).

The latter approach has some advantages in terms of accurate recording of the use of search reagents (a search impact measure similar to the mention of a publication) and identifying potential collaborators for search reagent developers.