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Principal Investigator Eligibility and Approval Procedures

Printable Version

PI Eligibility Memorandum of Understanding (REQUIRED FOR CONSIDERATION FOR PI ELIGIBILITY)

Approved by:
Committee on Policy, CVC, Chancellor
Effective Date: December 12, 2019

Policy Statement:
This policy establishes the role and responsibilities of a Principal Investigator (PI), the categories of appointments for those individuals who are eligible to serve as a PI, and an approval procedure to allow for those individuals not included in the default categories to serve as PIs on applications for externally funded grants, contracts and other sponsored programs (called “Sponsored Programs”). This policy applies to those serving as a Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI) and Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) as well. This policy also defines procedures for replacing, temporarily or permanently, an already designated PI on a pending proposal or active award.

Policy Rationale:
The Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) serves as the single institutional signing official for all proposals and Sponsored Programs made to UIC faculty, staff and trainees. Federal and state guidelines for PIs, MPIs and Co-PIs of externally funded Sponsored Programs mandate rapid (in some cases a maximum of 10 business days) reporting by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) of any PI changes, such as employment leave-of-absence, impending and/or disciplinary actions for sexual harassment, discrimination or assault, termination and replacement, retirement and the acceptance of other administrative responsibilities in order to maintain proper fiscal management and reporting. These responsibilities are in addition to the overall supervision of the outlined and approved protocols and/or approaches. Such Sponsor policies require UIC to define an organized approach in defining and providing eligibility for PIs, MPIs and Co-PIs, ensuring training for our faculty, mentoring of pre- and post-doctoral trainees and detailing processes for fiscal and regulatory compliance.

Every Sponsored Program must have an identified PI who is recognized by their College Dean, Unit Head or Chair (or their designee) or other Unit Head as eligible to be a PI. The PI is responsible for the design, scientific and technical conduct, administrative oversight, fiscal accountability, regulatory oversight and reporting for a research, instructional or public service project. Compliance with all sponsor guidelines for each award is required for PIs. Unit Heads are reminded that fiscal and programmatic responsibility for the project will revert to their office or department, if for any reason, the PI is unable to complete the assignment.

PI Status is granted using the following guidelines:

  1. PI Status is automatically granted for individuals holding the following titles, provided the individual is a UIC faculty member with the following academic appointments:
    • Professor (Full, Associate and Assistant)
    • Research Professor (Full, Associate and Assistant)
    • Clinical Professor (Full, Associate and Assistant)
  2. Individuals holding the following University non-faculty titles shall be granted PI status for projects directly related to the responsibility of their office following a one-time request made in writing that is approved by the VCR:
    • Director, Associate Director or Assistant Director (or related leadership positions)
  3. Individuals holding the following University titles shall be granted PI status following a one-time request made in writing that is approved by the VCR:
    • Emeritus faculty
    • An individual with a non-paid, courtesy or zero percent UIC appointment
    • Lecturer; instructor
    • Adjunct Professor (Full, Associate and Assistant)
    • Visiting Professor (Full, Associate and Assistant)
    • Teaching Professor (Full, Associate and Assistant)
    • Research Associates; (Senior, Associate and Assistant)
    • Research Scientist
    • Pre- and Post-Doctoral Trainees*

There will be specific timeframes for each PI status for each of these types of appointments when approved.

* Approval is automatically granted for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees to serve as PIs where the funding source requires the student or postdoctoral trainee to serve as the PI and there is a faculty sponsor designated for the proposal who meets the above criteria for serving as PI.

The procedure to request an exception to this Policy for an appointment as a PI, MPI or Co-PI status eligibility is as follows:

  1. A one-time letter requesting eligibility for PI Status must be written on department or office letterhead by a candidate’s Head, Chair or Director. The letter should briefly address the relevant qualifications of the candidate for whom PI Status is being requested. If the candidate has less than 5% compensated time as a UIC employee as part of the project’s budget, the letter should also address the candidate’s availability to devote the time required for appropriate oversight and execution of the project.
  2. The individual’s CV must accompany the request letter.
  3. The PI Eligibility Memorandum of Understanding must be completed and signed.
  4. Submit the MOU, request letter and CV to the Dean or Dean’s designee, such as the Associate Dean for Research of the candidate’s College, for approval, indicated by a very short approval letter or signature.
  5. Submit to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research ( for final approval.

In all cases, only the Vice Chancellor for Research has the authority to approve exceptions to this policy.

Eligibility to serve as a PI on any specific proposal or award will be subject to any applicable sponsor-imposed rules or guidelines.

Requests to replace an already designated PI on a submitted or pending proposal or award must be made in writing by notifying the Office of Sponsored Programs in OVCR within one week of when the need arises to replace a PI, MPI or Co-PI. Notification should include a replacement PI who must be a faculty member or approved staff member with PI status. (Note: IRB, IACUC or other pertinent committees also need to be notified.)

Minority Impact Statement: The policy does not have any disproportionate or unique impact on UIC’s minority students, staff or faculty.

Who Should Read the Policy: All faculty, staff and trainees involved in the research enterprise at UIC.


  • Principal Investigator (PI): An individual appointed by UIC with the primary responsibility to design, conduct and supervise a Sponsored Program awarded to UIC. The PI is also responsible for working with the OVCR to identify and comply to all sponsor award guidelines and requirements. The PI may be referred to as the Project Director or Program Director.
  • Multiple Principal Investigator (MPIs: Individuals who share the authority and responsibility of PI on Sponsored Programs with multiple Principal Investigators.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Individuals who share some of the authority and responsibility as the approved individual(s) who serves as PI or MPIs on a Sponsored Program.
  • Sponsored Program: Research grant, cooperative agreement, training or service project, clinical study, contract, other sponsored project or material transfer agreement funded or supported by a sponsor external to UIC.