MTA (Assurance Form) Signatory Guidelines
With regard to the requirement for the signature of an "Institutional Official" who can make legal commitments on behalf of the institution receiving biomaterials (DNA samples or cell cultures):
The MTA (Assurance Form) requires that the institution (in addition to the principal
investigator receiving the biomaterials) assure:
These are legal commitments by the institution. If the researcher or end-user (or laboratory technician or other staff) fails to abide by the commitments or misuses the biomaterials in any way, the institution is liable for failure to fulfill the terms of the assurance agreement.
- That the biomaterials will be used in compliance with all regulations protecting human subjects.
- That the biomaterials or any products derived from them will not be commercialized.
- That the biomaterials will not be distributed to a third party (that the researcher will not "share" with a colleague) without authorization by the Coriell Institute for Medical Research or sponsoring organization (National Institutes of Health or private foundation).
- That the research laboratory is properly equipped and provides the appropriate training for the handling of potentially hazardous biomaterials.
- That the institution will assume liability for use of the materials, as detailed in the MTA (Assurance Form).
In our experience, the individual who can make such commitments is usually a senior institutional official (president, vice-president, director of institute) with responsibility for scientific and technological research and development or legal affairs. This individual is likely to be the person authorized to sign grant applications, contract proposals or material transfer agreements on behalf of the institution.
At a university or college, an appropriate individual would be an executive in the Office of Grants and Contracts, Office of Sponsored Projects, Office of Technology Transfer or the Office of Intellectual Property. The Department Chairperson or a Lab Director or a lab manager is unlikely to meet the requirements of the Institutional Official.
At a private institution or commercial entity, an appropriate individual might be the President, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Scientific Officer, General Counsel or Director of Research.
It is unlikely that staff of a purchasing department would be authorized to make legally-binding assurances about the scientific use of biomaterials.
Please include sufficient detail in the "job title" used by the proposed signer of the MTA (Assurance Form)(s) so that the level and scope of responsibility is clear and unambiguous. (The title of "Dr." or "Professor" does not in itself provide sufficient information about the responsibilities of the signer).