Principal Investigator, Project Director, Co-Investigator (PI, PD, Co-I) Eligibility

The Principal Investigator (PI) /Project Director (PD)/ Co-Investigator (Co-I) are the individuals who have ultimate responsibility for the design, execution, and management of a sponsored project.

They are expected to:

  • Develop and submit the sponsored proposal
  • Ensure that the proposal is ethically and scientifically meritorious
  • Execute the scientific and technical aspects of a project 
  • Oversee the day-to-day management of the project
  • Ensure completion of the programmatic work and reporting requirements
  • Comply with all government, sponsor, and University policies and regulations
  • Ensure a professional work environment and adhere to the federal anti-harassment policy
  • Maintain fiscal stewardship of sponsored funds
  • Disseminate results from project
  • Manage all administrative requirements of the project
  • Have an up-to-date COI disclosure at the time of proposal submission
  • Maintain up-to-date current and pending support documentation

Who Can Be a Principal Investigator/Project Director/Co-Investigator at the University of Arizona?

Serving in the role of Principal Investigator/Project Director/Co-Investigator on an activity is a privilege granted to certain people associated with the University of Arizona. With the oversight responsibility implicit in the University's engagement in the activity, including acceptance of outside funds for a project, the University must be in a position of authority over the PI/PD/Co-I’s actions. Therefore, an individual's participation in University of Arizona research is dependent upon that individual's relationship with the institution.  Research, Innovation & Impact (RII) has set out guidelines that must be met for the consideration of granting status as a PI/PD/Co-I’s to any individual. Participation as a Principal Investigator/Project Director/Co-Investigator for the University of Arizona must have a minimum employment requirement of 0.50 FTE and belong to an eligible employment category. Reach out to your college for clarification on guidance for eligibility.

Minimum Employment Requirement:

The minimum level of FTE to serve as a PI/PD/Co-I is 0.50 FTE as a University of Arizona employee. If a request for an exception of a lower FTE is needed, a PI/PD/Co-I FTE Exception Request must be completed with all required signatures. 

PI/PD/Co-I Eligibility by Employment Category:

Status/Title: Eligible to be a PI/PD/Co-I Requires an eligible PI/PD/Co-I
Tenured/Tenure Eligible Faculty YES  
Continuing/Continuing Eligible YES  
Career track asst/assoc/full professors (including clinical, research, and professors of practice) YES  
Research Scientists YES  
Postdoctoral Fellows YES  
Assistant/Associate in Extension YES  
Research Associates   YES
Research Assistants   YES
Graduate Students   YES
Undergraduate Students   YES
Adjunct Faculty   YES
Visiting Faculty & Scholars (DCC)   YES
Emeritus Faculty (DCC)   YES
Directors, Chairs, Deans, Vice Presidents YES  
Librarians/Curators YES  
Affiliate or Clinical Faculty (DCC) not paid by UArizona when all the research is conducted at the university or under the auspices of the university with Banner Health and Phoenix Children's Hospital YES  

Under exceptional circumstances, titles not included above may be considered to serve as Co-I with RII approval.

Please email to request an exception.

Definition of an investigator for Conflict of Interest purposes is different and can be found on the OROI website.

Multiple-Principal Investigators Projects

Some research projects have multiple Principal Investigators (PI’s). These PI’s can be at more than one institution. Each must have a leadership role, defined in the proposal, and have responsibility for technical aspects of the project.

Internal Funding

Internal funding eligibility is reserved for those who are PI Eligible intrinsically and do not require further accompaniment.

For further clarification, please contact the RDS team: or visit

NIH Multiple-Principal Investigator Model

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Multiple Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD) model accommodates team-based science and recognizes the contributions of team members for projects that do not fit the traditional single PI/PD model. The Multiple PI model does not replace the traditional single PI/PD model. Under the model, one investigator is named as the Contact Principal Investigator.  The NIH specifically states that being named Contact PI does not imply any particular role within the leadership team other than being responsible for communication. The University of Arizona will treat the Contact PI as the communication lead, and the responsible person on for the project.

Conflict of Interest

The University of Arizona has a responsibility to ensure integrity and transparency in managing the intersections of its public and private interests, thereby preserving the integrity of its research enterprise and the public’s trust. The University has implemented its Conflicts of Interest & Commitment Policy to assist University of Arizona investigators in applying and complying with the University’s requirements regarding training, disclosure, review, and reporting of conflicts of interest.

The Conflicts of Interest & Commitment Policy is part of an institutional culture of ethics and good judgment in the University’s performance of all of its missions (teaching, research, public service) and its administrative and business operations. Each investigator has an obligation to become familiar with, and abide by, this policy. Research, Innovation & Impact is responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy.

When in doubt, disclose!

If you participate in research under the auspices of the University, you are required to comply with the University’s Conflicts of Interest & Commitment Policy.  In particular, you are required to periodically disclose to the University whether you have any significant financial interests or significant personal interests that may be related to your research.  These disclosure requirements apply to all foreign entities, including, but not limited to, employment and/or payments from foreign entities.  You also must complete COI training once every four years. For more information, please visit the Office for Responsible Outside Interests’ Investigator Training & Disclosure Requirements page.

Role Definitions:

Does the project involve human subjects? Remember to include the clinical study team in the UAccess Research (UAR) proposal or award. Refer to the Investigator Role Mapping and Identification Table for guidance.

Role Definition

Program Director (PD), Principal Investigator (PI), or Contact PI

An individual who is judged to have the appropriate level of training, skill, authority, and responsibility and is designated by the University of Arizona to direct or co-direct a sponsored project or program. They are responsible and accountable to the University and the Sponsor for the design, execution, and management of a sponsored project or program, including the submission of all required reports.

Co-Investigator (Co-I), Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI), or Mentor/Advisor

An individual the PD/PI relies on to assume responsibilities above those of other personnel who make significant contributions to the sponsored project or program. A Co-I does not have overall responsibility and authority for the sponsored project or program like an MPI.

Key Person (KP)

An individual who is essential to the performance of the sponsored project or program, and who contributes to the scientific design, development, or execution of the project or program in a substantive, measurable way, but who does not have overall responsibility and authority for the sponsored project or program.

Conflict of Interest Discloser (COI Discloser)

Any person, regardless of title or position, named in a proposal, who is responsible for Conducting Research performed by or under the auspices of the University, other than those already included in a Project Director (PD), Co-PD, Principal Investigator (PI), Co-PI, Co-Investigator, or Key Person (KP) role. This may include Postdocs, students, and trainees.


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