Intramural Scientist Collaboration on Extramural Funded Grants and Contracts SOP

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.


To assist intramural scientists in initiating collaborations with scientists at extramural academic institutions, nonprofits, and industry.


Though NIH strongly encourages collaborations between intramural and extramural investigators, staff participation in extramural grants and contracts have potential implications for conflicts of interest, ethics, technology transfer, intellectual property, publication, and the exchange of research materials.

NIH grant or contract funds cannot be used to support any aspect of intramural activities. However, extramural scientists working in intramural labs may bring their own resources even if those supplies and materials were purchased with grant or contract funds.

Procedures are provided for the following staff roles:

Scroll to the bottom of this document for links to policies and regulations that govern the conduct and funding of intramural-extramural collaborations.

Intramural Scientists

As soon as possible, before agreeing to a collaboration with an extramural investigator, do the following:

  • Discuss the proposed collaboration with the following people:
  • Complete this formal letter of collaboration template and send it to your intramural division contact.
    • Put the letter on DHHS letterhead.
    • Sign the finalized letter. Your division contact will gather additional signatures and negotiate potential changes as necessary.
  • After you receive the required signatures, send copies of the collaboration letter to the following people:
  • If the collaboration would bring money or property to your lab or NIAID, read Outside Funding for Intramural Investigators for instructions on getting approval.
  • Notify your collaborator that you cannot join the project until you receive approval from your intramural division director. However, while waiting to hear whether your collaboration is approved, you may write the application and prepare to apply.

Intramural Division Contacts

  • Guide intramural investigators through the collaboration documentation, review, and approval process.
  • Advise intramural investigators on the following topics:
    • OE and TTIPO reviews.
    • Standards of conduct.
    • Material transfer.
    • Approval process.
    • Other considerations before the collaboration.
  • Send draft collaboration letters to TTIPO for review.
  • Resolve any conflicts identified by TTIPO or OE.
  • Review the collaboration letter to ensure that recommended changes from TTIPO or OE have been incorporated and all points in the collaboration letter have been addressed.
  • Obtain the intramural scientist's and scientific director's signature for approval.
  • Send a copy of the signed letter to TTIPO and OE.

Extramural Program Staff

  • If an intramural scientist wants to collaborate with an extramural grantee, discuss the nature of the collaboration with the intramural scientist and his or her supervisor.
  • If the collaboration involves a grant, make sure you indicate in the Program Officer Checklist located in eRA’s Program Management Module whether an intramural staff person is substantially involved in the research.
  • If the collaboration involves a contract, do the following:
    • Notify your contracting officer.
    • Work with the contracting officer to make all shared resources available to all offerors.
    • Refer all communications with potential offerors to the contracting officer.
  • Do not discuss the review or award status of an application or proposal that involves an intramural collaboration with anybody.
    • Intramural scientists must communicate directly with their collaborators.
    • Applicants and offerors may refuse to release this information.
  • Never broker a deal on your own. The intramural lab chief and scientific director will determine, review, and approve the extent and nature of any collaboration.

Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Office

  • Receive all inquiries concerning collaborations from the intramural division contact or directly from the scientists involved.
  • Determine whether a Material Transfer Agreement, Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or other agreement is required.
  • If the collaboration involves applying for nonfederal grants, receiving grants from other federal agencies, or accepting gifts, follow the procedures at Obtaining Approval To Accept Conditional Gifts.
  • Establish appropriate internal controls for reviewing and reporting collaborations to the Office of Science Management and Operations.

Office of Ethics

Grants Management Specialists

  • Consult NIH Policy 54815—Implementation of Cooperative Agreements for the following information:
    • Policy on intramural collaboration with extramural organizations that may require funding the research as a cooperative agreement.
    • Policy that an intramural scientist may not receive extramural funds to participate in a cooperative agreement.
  • If the Program Officer Checklist indicates that an intramural staff person is substantially involved in the research, bring this to the attention of the chief grants management officer.
    • Chief grants management officer will determine if the grant needs to be converted to a cooperative agreement.
  • If intramural scientists are involved as collaborators in extramural research, add a special term to the Notice of Award that restricts the transfer directly or indirectly of extramural funds (such as salary, travel, equipment) to the intramural lab.

Office of Acquisitions Staff

  • Advise intramural investigators, extramural program officers, and extramural scientists on any resources, funding, or personnel matters relating to a contract.
  • If a contract involves intramural resources, make sure the solicitation states that these resources are available to all offerors.
  • If intramural scientists are collaborators on a contract, include:
    • Copy of the scientific director’s approval in the contract file.
    • Statement in the Summary of Negotiations that terms and conditions have been added to the Advance Understandings Article of the contract restricting the transfer of extramural funds to the intramural lab.
  • In the Advance Understandings Article, include terms and conditions that restrict the transfer directly or indirectly of extramural funds (such as salary, travel, equipment) to the intramural lab.


Use the contacts listed above for questions about your specific situation. If you have a general question or a suggestion to improve this page, email the Office of Knowledge and Educational Resources at



NIH Office of Intramural Research

NIH Ethics Program

Content last reviewed on