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

The Principal Investigator (PI) /Project Director (PD)/ Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) 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

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

Serving in the role of Principal Investigator/Project Director/Co-Principal 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-PI’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-PI’s to any individual.

Minimum Employment Requirement:

The minimum level of FTE to serve as a PI/PD/Co-PI 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-PI FTE Exception Request must be completed with all required signatures. 

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

Status/Title Eligible to be PI/PD/Co-PI Require an eligible PI/PD as a Co-PI
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  
Research Associates   YES
Research Assistants   YES
Graduate Students   YES
Undergraduate Students   YES
Adjunct Faculty   YES
Visiting Faculty & Scholars (DCC)   YES
Emeritus Faculty   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 our affiliated healthcare partners YES  
Other Designated Campus Colleagues   YES

Under exceptional circumstances, titles not included above may be considered to serve as Co-PI 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 COI 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.

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.

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