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A critical challenge in ultra-wideband (UWB) system design is that a receiver usually needs tens of microseconds or even tens of milliseconds to synchronize with transmitted signals; this is known as the timing acquisition problem. Such a long synchronization time causes significant overhead, since the data rate of UWB systems is expected to be very high. We address the timing acquisition problem at the medium access control (MAC) layer, and propose a general framework for medium access control in UWB systems; in this framework, a transmitting node can aggregate multiple upper-layer packets into a larger burst frame at the MAC layer. Furthermore, we design a MAC protocol based on the framework, and analyze its saturation throughput performance. Compared to sending each upper-layer packet individually, which is a typical situation in exiting MAC protocols, the proposed MAC can drastically reduce the synchronization overhead. Numerical and simulation results show that the proposed MAC can significantly improve the performance of UWB networks, in terms of both throughput and end-to-end delay.