Radioisotopes

About the UIC

Anyone utilizing radioactive materials must submit an authorization request to the University Isotopes Committee (UIC) for review and approval prior to beginning their research. The primary responsibility of the UIC  is to ensure that Penn State complies with regulations established by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection Bureau of Radiation Protection (PA DEP BRP) for containing, controlling and transporting radioactive materials. This is best accomplished when all stakeholders performing or overseeing regulated activities establish and maintain a positive safety culture commensurate with the safety and security significance of their activities and the nature and complexity of their organization and function. The expectation to maintain and foster this culture applies to everyone at The Pennsylvania State University.  

More information on safety culture is available and should be reviewed on this brochure

If you have suggestions for UIC-related workshop topics, please submit them on our Topic Suggestions Page.

If you are interested in serving on Penn State University's UIC, please contact the Office for Research Protections at ORP-Isotope@psu.edu.

Who Needs to Submit?

Do I Need to Submit an Application to the University Radioisotopes Committee (UIC) for the use of radioisotopes in research?

If you work with radioactive material, you must submit an authorization request to the UIC for review and approval.

This does not cover naturally occurring radioactive materials in their normal concentrations and chemical states or those materials such as smoke detectors, luminous dials, or rare earths. Nor does this cover the purchase and use of Exempt radioactive materials such as sealed counting standards. However, the UIC may require authorization to possess or use such material if the potential hazard is comparable to licensed material. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) should be consulted before acquiring any radioactive material to determine whether an authorization is required.

What About Work at the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor?
These rules do not apply to the operation of the reactor except as specifically made a part of the reactor's operating license. Radioactive material contained in reactor fuel elements, operating components, or supporting structure is exempted from these regulations and is covered by the reactor's operating license. Other radioactive material produced by the neutrons generated by the nuclear comes under control of the UIC upon removal from the reactor.

To Whom Does This Apply?
These rules and procedures cover the possession, use, and transfer of all licensed radioactive material on University-controlled property by University personnel or others and by University personnel at other locations. This includes the non-University Park locations, but not the Hershey Medical Center. The medical center is covered by rules that are administered by committees separate from the University Isotopes

FAQs:

How do I add someone to my approved authorization and/or amend the authorization?

Personnel additions are not required to be submitted – they are captured by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at the time of initial training (required prior to anyone beginning work with radioactive materials) and other personnel changes are captured by EHS during annually-required retraining summaries.  Other amendments should be submitted using the Request for Authorization to Use Radioactive Material form and checking “Amendment to current authorization” in response to question 4.

May a high school student conduct research or work (paid or unpaid) in my laboratory?

When a high school student will conduct research or work (paid or unpaid) at Penn State University, the "High School Students in the Laboratory" form  must be completed to ensure that the student has received the appropriate instruction and parental consent. 

I have a new grant, also using radioactive material – how do I get UIC approval for my new grant?

Carefully review your new grant and existing approved Authorization to Use Radioactive Materials.  If any isotopes/procedures in the new grant are not covered in the existing approved Authorization, submit an amendment using the Request for Authorization to Use Radioactive Material form and checking “Amendment to current authorization” in response to question 4.

What is a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA)?

An MTA outlines the terms of use of tangible research materials. While terms may vary from one agreement to the next, the most commonly negotiated elements include: rights and ownership of intellectual property and data, publication rights, liability and governance. MTAs cover a wide array of materials, including, but not limited to, animals, reagents, cell lines, devices, software and data. MTAs allow researchers to share tangible materials as well as receive tangible materials without necessarily having to purchase them.

When do I need a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA)?

An MTA is required when:

  1. Penn State owned tangible research materials including, but not limited to, animals, reagents, cell lines, devices, software and data are being sent to another academic institution, research institution or company.
  2.  A Penn State researcher will receive tangible research materials including, but not limited to, animals, reagents, cell lines, devices, software and data from another academic institution, research institution or company.  If the materials are being shipped to Penn State, Penn State often uses the company/institution’s agreement.

Who executes a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) and how is this done?

For all University locations other than the Hershey Medical Center/College of Medicine:

Penn State’s Office of Technology Management (OTM) processes all MTAs for materials being shipped from Penn State and materials being shipped to Penn State from another academic institution, research institution or company.  

Many of Penn State’s Colleges also have their own checklist completion requirements and/or other approval requirements for MTAs.  Researchers should consult with their College’s Research Office regarding any additional MTA requirements or may contact the OTM for additional information.

If biological materials are being sent or received, the Uniform Biological Materials Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) can be used if the other institution/company has signed the Master UBMTA. You can check the list of entities that have signed the Master UBMTA as well as download the UBMTA for completing. The UBMTA should still be sent through the OTM for execution on behalf of Penn State.

The OTM coordinates with Penn State's Office for Research Protections (ORP) to verify that all necessary research oversight committee (i.e. IRB, IACUC, IBC and UIC) approvals are in place for all materials listed on the MTA. If materials are being received from or shipped outside of the United States, the OTM also completes an export review to ensure that there is no export control on the materials.

The OTM will prepare and forward the MTA for appropriate signatures by the other company/institution and/or PSU. Once the agreement is fully executed, a signed copy will be sent to the other institution/company and the OTM will notify the Penn State researcher and the College so that arrangements can be made to send/receive the materials. (Please note: All incoming and outgoing animal shipments must be coordinated through Penn State’s Animal Resource Program.  When shipping hazardous materials, researchers must adhere to Penn State Policy SY34, Hazardous Material Shipping.)

The MTA execution process can sometimes take one to two weeks to complete.

Any questions regarding an MTA should be directed to the OTM (814-865-6277 or otminfo@psu.edu).