Principal Investigator Responsibilities and Eligibility Requirements

Principal Investigator Policy at UO

A Principal Investigator (PI) at UO is an individual who leads externally sponsored projects and who has both sufficient authority and the appropriate accountability to carry out all aspects of the project. This page explains the university’s established guidance regarding PI responsibilities, PI status, and how to request temporary or blanket PI status.


Automatic Status

UO Personnel with Automatic PI Status do not need to use the PI/Co-PI Status Request process to submit and lead external programs. Those with Automatic PI-Status are:

  1. Faculty members
    • who are paid by the UO, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, or Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI),
    • AND have an active UO employment appointment in the following classifications:
      • tenure related faculty
      • emeritus tenure related faculty
      • research professor series, career (i.e., not pro-tem or courtesy)
      • research associate series, career (i.e., not pro-tem or courtesy)
      • senior research assistants I and II, career (i.e., not pro-tem or courtesy)
      • retired faculty who had PI status prior to retiring
      • librarians with faculty appointment, career (i.e., not pro-tem or courtesy)
  2. Postdoctoral Fellows and Scholars
    • who are applying to funding opportunities that are targeted specifically for postdoctoral support (e.g. NIH’s K99/R00, ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH or NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, etc.),
    • AND the award is $400,000 or less.
  3. Ph.D. students
    • who have advanced to candidacy,
    • AND are applying to funding opportunities specifically for graduate student support (e.g. NIH F31 fellowships, NSF doctoral dissertation research improvement grants, predoctoral fellowships from American Heart Association, American Counsel of Learned Societies, etc.).
      • (Note that a graduate student could be either a PI or a Co-PI depending on the requirements of the funder. In either case, no exception request is needed)

NON-automatic Status Needing Exception

Some UO personnel who do not have automatic status can be approved as a PI to serve as lead on an externally sponsored project, either on a case by case basis or with standing approval for all future proposals. Approvals are made through the process described below.

The following UO personnel are eligible to request PI Status:

  • Officers of Administration
  • Instructors
  • Research Assistants
  • Postdoctoral Scholars*
  • Courtesy Faculty
  • Pro Tem Faculty

*Postdoctoral Scholars who are applying to funding opportunities that are NOT targeted specifically for postdoctoral support (e.g., a research grant application), or the award targeted specifically for postdoctoral support is in excess of $400,000.

Co-Principal Investigator Status

A Co-PI has the same designated project management and reporting responsibilities as a PI. There are several ways to have Co-PI status on an externally funded project.

  1. Anyone who has automatic PI status also has automatic Co-PI status.
  2. A Non-Automatic Status individual from the list above can be granted Co-PI status via PI/Co-PI Status Request process.
  3. A graduate student or postdoctoral fellow can be granted Co-PI status via the PI/Co-PI Status Request process when they are
    • collaborating on an externally funded project for which they do not have automatic status, and
    • the collaboration is with a UO faculty member who has automatic PI status.

Note: The term Co-PI should not be confused with the term “Co-Investigator” used by the National Institutes of Health and other funders. Co-Investigators are considered senior/key personnel, and do not have the designated project management and reporting responsibilities of a PI or a Co-PI.

Regardless of how an individual obtains PI status, they must be PI-eligible both at the time of grant-submission and again at the time of award.

Contact your Pre-Award Sponsored Projects Administrator if you are unsure of your eligibility status.

Requesting PI/Co-PI Status

If you

  • do not fit the criteria for having automatic status, and
  • you are personnel who is eligible to apply for an exception as described above,

then you may request PI/Co-PI status through the form below for either a single proposal or for blanket status to cover all future proposals. Blanket status is appropriate for positions where on-going sponsored activity and/or research funding is a critical part of the position.

Applications for PI status can be made by a departmental grant administrator but must be approved by a dean, director, or department/unit head. By approving, the manager affirms their understanding that the unit is responsible for the individual following all pertinent compliance and grant administration rules and regulations, as well as any financial liabilities such as fees, pre-award spending guarantees, or over-expenditure payments that might result. 

PI/Co-PI Exception Request Form

If you have questions about requesting PI/Co-PI status, please contact Research Development Services.

Principal Investigator Responsibilities

All PIs must adhere to the responsibilities of a PI as outlined in the UO's mandatory PI training and all applicable Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care And Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and other university or sponsor policies and procedures.

Annual Certification Training

Individuals with PI status applying to external funding must complete an annual online certification training. This training covers all relevant grant administration rules, policies, and university expectations of them as PIs. To complete the certification, sign in to the Electronic Proposal Clearing System (EPCS), and at the Main Menu, click on the "PI certification" link on the right-hand side of the page.

Financial Conflicts of Interest

Those with PI status must also follow the UO Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) policy and disclosure requirements as mandated by the federal government.  The Financial Conflicts of Interest page contains the UO FCOI policy, disclosure forms, as well as FAQ's regarding financial conflicts of interest. All conflict of interest or disclosure questions should be directed to the Research Compliance Services.


The UO reserves the right to not submit a proposal, pull back a submission or not accept an award for reasons such as the PI, project or award terms and conditions do not conform to institutional rules and policy, or the institution believes the terms and conditions of the award cannot be met.