PI Eligibility for Sponsored Projects

The University limits the eligibility of persons who may serve as Principal Investigators (PIs).  This section serves to summarize the policies and procedures for determining PI eligibility for a sponsored project being submitted through SPA.  More detailed information is provided in the Sponsored Projects Handbook.

PI Responsibility

For each sponsored project, one investigator is typically designated as the PI. The PI bears ultimate responsibility for academic decisions as well as for financial, administrative and compliance matters of the project. Other individuals with significant involvement may be listed as “Co-Principal Investigator” or “Co-Investigator”.

    Questions can be directed to the SPA Project Officer.

    A PI normally must have a full-time appointment and must be an:

    • Officer of Instruction in the rank of:
      • Professor
      • Associate Professor
      • Assistant Professor
      • Instructor

    or an

    • Officer of Research in the rank of:
      • Senior Research Scientist/Scholar
      • Research Scientist/Scholar
      • Lamont Research Professor
      • Lamont Associate Research Professor
      • Lamont Assistant Research Professor

    Persons with appointments carrying other titles, including those in a visiting or adjunct grade, may act as co-PIs with officers in one of the instructional or research grades cited above. However, individuals who do not meet the above criteria may not serve as the sole PI without the approval of their department chair or director and dean or vice president, as well as the Provost.

    The Provost has delegated the authority to make such exceptions as follows:

    • For those holding appointments at CUMC, the Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences;
    • For those holding appointments at Lamont, the Director; and
    • For those holding appointments elsewhere in the University, the EVPR.

    Any investigator who plans to conduct his/her research through the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute (ZMBBI) must also seek an exception through the EVPR, regardless of where his/her primary academic appointment is held.


    Investigators seeking an exception should submit a letter signed by the appropriate Chair and Dean (or equivalent officers) addressed to the applicable office listed above that has been delegated to make exceptions.  In the case of ZMBBI investigators, the letter should be signed by the Chair of the academic Department where the investigator has his/her primary appointment and a Co-Director and the Executive Director of ZMBBI.  The letter should be forwarded to the applicable SPA Project Officer. 

    The letter must include an acknowledgement that the applicable Department and School (or equivalent institutional units) have financial responsibility for the project and confirmation that appropriate non-sponsored support will be provided to cover proposal writing and other non-sponsored activities of the investigator for whom the exception is sought.  The investigator’s curriculum vitae and an abstract of the project covered by the exception should accompany the letter.

    Exceptions are granted only on a project by project basis or, in certain unusual cases, for a limited time period.  Blanket exceptions are never granted at CUMC and are only granted in truly exceptional cases elsewhere at the University.

    Note: For non-sponsored research studies involving human subjects or vertebrate animals, a similar waiver request must be submitted to the HRPO or the IACUC if the PI on the protocol does not meet the qualifications indicated above.