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Navigating the Alphabet Soup of Agreements

As a busy PI conducting research, have you ever wondered why your institution asks you to complete certain agreements related to your research and what do they all mean. In a recent article in Nature Biotechnology, Dr. Colm Lawler, Senior Licensing Manager, from Partners Innovation and his co-authors from NYU and SUNY Upstate Medical, attempt to provide a guide for navigating the alphabet soup of agreements that a PI may encounter. According to Dr. Lawler, the rationale and objectives for various agreements are not always clearly understood by researchers and can often feel like superfluous paperwork to be burdened with rather than important documents with the potential for significant protection for the researcher and their institution.

The article is divided into 2 key sections. The first section deals with agreements involved in establishing a research collaboration, including with either a company or another non-profit institution. Also included in this section are agreements that may often arise during the conduct of the research and which are required for the research to continue. While the article provides an in-depth list of the agreements and further information, some of the agreements highlighted are Sponsored Research Agreements (SRAs), Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) and Clinical Trial Agreements (CTAs). The second section deals with agreements related to how the results of your research may be commercialized by private industry and includes information on Inter-Institutional Agreements (IIAs), Institutional Revenue Sharing Agreements (RSAs) and also Licensing Agreements.

Overall the article is written to provide an introduction to some of these relevant agreements that a PI can use for his or her subsequent research planning. As Dr. Lawler states “We in Innovation are always happy to explain to you why certain agreements are required and the objectives for putting these agreements in place. Hopefully this article will help you navigate the many agreements that you might encounter more effectively and which is all to our benefit.”

To read the entire article, visit Nature Biotechnology. Access is free if you are a subscriber. If not, the article can be rented for a nominal fee.