Principal Investigator Responsibilities and Eligibility Requirements

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 exceptions.


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), or those who would be on UO payroll in connection with sponsored projects,
    • 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 PI Status - Exception Needed

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 approval 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 PI Status individual from the list above can be granted Co-PI status via PI/Co-PI Status Request process (form below).
  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 the award.

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

Requesting Exception for Personnel without Automatic Status

You may request PI/Co-PI status through the form below if you:

  • do not fit the criteria for having automatic status, and
  • you are personnel who is eligible to apply for an exception (Officers of Administration, Instructors, Research Assistant, Postdoctoral Scholars, Courtesy Faculty, Pro Tem Faculty).

Single Proposal Requests: This request-type is for personnel applying to a specific grant opportunity and restricts the applicant to this single submission. Future grant applications will require another PI Exception Request submission. This is the appropriate request for most situations, and the only type allowed for requests from Pro Tem or Courtesy Faculty.

Blanket Status Requests: Blanket status is appropriate for Officers of Administration, Instructors, Research Assistants, or Postdoctoral Scholars where ongoing sponsored activity and/or research funding is a critical part of their position. In your request, please make clear how your particular appointment or position requires you to engage in ongoing sponsored research or other sponsored activities. Below are two examples of appropriate situations for requesting Blanket Status.

  • Example 1: An Officer of Administration is a director of a center/ museum/ institute that is supported primarily by external grants, and fundraising is an essential function of their job.
  • Example 2: A research assistant was hired to conduct research in an institute that is financed by a wide variety of externally sponsored projects, and they will be collaborating as Co-PI on grants and contracts under the lead of a tenure-track faculty member.

Review Process

Requests for PI status must be approved by a dean, director, or department/unit head to move forward. 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. Once the manager approves the request, Research Development Services reviews it for compliance with UO process. If the request is in compliance, Sponsored Project Services will update UO’s internal proposal tracking system (EPCS) to allow the requestor to be listed as PI/Co-PI on the EPCS record for their grant proposal(s). The whole process can take a week or more, so please plan accordingly.


PI/Co-PI Exception Request Form

NOTE: A departmental administrator may fill out the form on the behalf of an applicant.

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 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.