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Roles & Responsibilities

1.4 Principal Investigator

A person holding appointment as either a regular or research faculty member may be designated as a principal investigator (PI) by the Department Head with the approval of the Dean. See a complete list of University Faculty Appointment definitions.

Additionally, a person must live in the immediate vicinity of the University of Utah during the entire length of the sponsored project in order to serve as a PI. The Department Chair or equivalent may determine that the individual proposed as PI, or the project itself, may not be in the best interest of the University.

A person who does not hold a faculty appointment may be designated as a PI if they are a University employee holding the position of “Director” or with prior approval of the Vice President for Research.

Overview of PI Responsibilities

The Principal Investigator (PI) assumes the primary leadership role in a project. During proposal or project development, the PI is officially designated on the Document Summary Sheet (DSS). PIs are encouraged to discuss their proposal with OSP early in the development phase. The PI has responsibility for accurately completing the DSS. By signing the DSS, the PI certifies that the information provided is true and correct and agrees to take responsibility for the proper conduct of the project as delineated above. The PI is also responsible for obtaining the approval and signature of their Department Chair and Dean on the DSS.

Sponsored projects administration is a joint effort between the PI and the University. The PI is held accountable for the proper fiscal management and conduct of the project. The University is held legally and financially responsible and accountable to the sponsor for the performance of the activity funded and the proper use of funds, but without the full cooperation and oversight of the PI, the University wouldn’t be able to fulfill its stewardship role.

The PI is responsible to the University and to the sponsor for assuring that the scope of work for which the award was made is completed, that University policies and procedures are adhered to and that funds are expended in accordance with the awarded budget and sponsor terms and conditions.

While the PI may delegate some responsibility for day-to-day management of finances and other tasks to departmental or school business staff, the PI remains accountable for compliance with University policy, including regulatory compliance with the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Environmental Health and Safety, Biosafety, Radiation Safety and FDA policies, to name a few, and sponsor requirements.

After the project has expired, the PI continues to be responsible for all close-out and intellectual property requirements of the university and the sponsor; including but not limited to all final technical reports, submission of invention disclosures, satisfying subcontract/consortium contractual requirement and other reports as required.

A PI must notify OSP and the awarding agency immediately if any of the following occur: the PI leaves and/or terminates their employment with the University of Utah; withdraws from the project entirely; is absent from the project or the University for any continuous period of 90 days or more, including sabbatical leave; is involved in the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) program; reduces the time devoted to the project by 25 percent or more from the level that was approved at the time of the award; and is or has been debarred or suspended by the Federal government. Any PI who is or has been debarred or suspended is precluded from receiving federally funded grant or contract awards or from being paid with Federal funds.

A change in PI on a sponsored project can only occur with sponsor and University approval.

For further information on the faculty and PI roles and responsibilities at the University of Utah, please refer to the following:

Last Updated: 12/1/22