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Multiple Principal Investigators on Federal Awards.

Procedure: 8-10

Effective: February 7, 2007

Owner: Assistant Vice President for Research Administration

Latest Revision:

Procedure Steps | Scope | Policy | Responsibility | Distribution | Ownership


The U.S. Government’s Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memorandum in January 2005 requiring all federal research agencies to accommodate the recognition of two or more Project Directors/Principal Investigators (PDs/PIs) on research grants and contracts when appropriate and justified. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a major sponsor of University research, has implemented this directive into practice. This procedure covers grant applications submitted to NIH that identify more than one Principal Investigator. NIH will receive applications with multiple PIs starting with its February 5, 2007 deadline. This procedure will be updated as other agencies change their practices to accommodate the recognition of more than one PD/PI.

System References



The Assistant Vice President for Research Administration is responsible for this Procedure.


Principal Investigators Office of Sponsored Programs Administrators Departmental and School Research Administrators Associate Deans


The Director of Grants and Contracts, Office of Sponsored Programs, and the Assistant Dean for Research Administration, School of Medicine Office of Grants and Contracts, are responsible for ensuring that this procedure is necessary, reflects actual practice, and supports University policy.


Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI): The individual(s) judged by the University of Virginia to have the appropriate level of authority and responsibility to direct the project or program supported by the grant. The University may designate multiple individuals as PDs/PIs who share the authority and responsibility for leading and directing the project, intellectually and logistically. Each PD/PI is responsible and accountable to the University for the proper conduct of the project or program including the submission of all required reports. The appropriateness of including a PD/PI from a collaborating organization will be approved jointly by the appropriate personnel of the University and the collaborating organization. Contact PD/PI: The first PD/PI listed in the application. This individual is responsible for communication between NIH and the other PDs/PIs. >From NIH’s perspective, being named Contact PD/PI does not imply any particular role within the leadership team. University Award PI: The first PD/PI listed in the application. This individual is assigned principal investigator status for the University’s Integrated System sponsored account and serves as the primary contact with the University’s research administration and accounting offices. Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan: Section of the NIH grant application that provides: a) rationale for choosing a multiple PD/PI approach; b) the governance and organizational structure of the leadership team, including communication plans, process for making decisions on scientific direction, and conflict resolution procedures; c) roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the program PDs/PIs; and d) budget allocation details if appropriate.

Procedure Steps

This activity is performed whenever a grant application identifying more than one Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is submitted to the NIH. The multiple PD/PI option will be extended to most of NIH’s research grant mechanisms, including the R, U and P grants and cooperative awards. It is presumed by the University and NIH that most applications will continue to identify a single PD/PI. The multiple PD/PI option will be exercised for applications in which an interdisciplinary “team science” approach will best achieve the aims of the research.

  • Each PD/PI is scientifically considered equal for merit in achieving the project outcome. Multiple PD/PI applications submitted to OSP or the SOM Office of Grants and Contracts must provide the following supplemental documents: Each identified PD/PI must complete and sign a separate Proposal Approval Sheet or “Goldenrod.”
  • The Multiple PI/PD Leadership Plan must be included in the proposal sent to OSP or the SOM Office of Grants and Contracts. Grants management staff at the respective offices will review the plan to determine whether the planned multiple PD/PI submission is consistent with agency and University requirements.
  • If separate budget allocations are desired for each PD/PI, discrete internal budgets for each PD/PI will be required with the application materials. These budgets will not be included in the application sent to NIH, but the amounts should be reflected in the portion of the Multiple PI/PD Leadership Plan addressing resource allocation.

The first PD/PI named in the proposal (typically on the application face page) will be the designated Contact PD/PI. The Contact PD/PI will also serve as the Award PI for the University’s Integrated System sponsored account. In this role of Award PI, the Contact PD/PI will assume overall fiscal responsibility for the grant and will be the principal administrative contact for University research administrative offices. Unless circumstances arise that prevent the Award PI from remaining on the grant, it is anticipated that Award PI will remain unchanged for the duration of the Award.

End of Activity