Multiple PI Guide

When should I use the multiple PI option?

  • Science drives the decision to have multiple PIs. Use this option for collaborative research; it does not have to be multidisciplinary research.
  • NIH allows multiple PIs for most applications, including R01s. For other initiatives, check each announcement to confirm.
  • Investigators determine the number of PIs; there is no maximum. However, having more PIs than you can justify can hurt your application.
  • If you are considering multiple PIs, you should contact your program officer at the earliest possible date to discuss the appropriateness of each approach.
  • All PIs must be registered as PIs in the NIH Commons and have a PI signature assurance on file with their institutions.
  • You can request more than one PI for a renewal or amended application even if the original application had only one PI. You cannot do so for a noncompeting application.
  • All PIs will appear in the Notice of Grant Award, summary statement, and RePORT.

PI Roles

  • Each PI must have a leadership role. The application should state which PIs are responsible for which research aims.
  • The science determines the level of effort for the PIs; there is no minimum level.
  • One PI serves as contact PI, coordinating communication between all PIs and NIH, and coordinating the progress report.
    • He or she must be affiliated with (not necessarily employed by) the applicant institution.
    • On large studies, other PIs may perform other coordination activities.
  • All PIs have the same status and are equally responsible for their projects.

New Investigators

  • Do not check the new PI box unless all PIs meet the NIH's definition of a new investigator.
  • If the multi-PI award is funded, the PIs will no longer be considered new.

  • Scientists who would not qualify as a single PI would not qualify as a PI on a multi-PI application/

Leadership Plan

  • Your Research Plan must include a Multiple PI Leadership Plan that addresses the following items:
    • Rationale and justification for choosing the multiple PI approach.
    • Administrative and scientific responsibilities for each PI, including who will be the contact PI. As in the Research Plan, state which PI is responsible for which aims.
    • Governance and organizational structure of the team.
    • Procedures for resolving conflicts.
    • Policies for communication, data sharing, publication, and intellectual property.
    • Budget issues.
      • Describe the process for making decisions on scientific direction and allocating resources and funds.
      • If they wish, the PIs may request that a budget allocation is included in the Notice of Grant Award.
      • If each PI will have a budget, state how resources will be distributed.
      • If the PIs are in different institutions, NIH is currently using a subaward arrangement. 
      • Having more than one PI should not increase the cost of the application, except for items such as travel to scientific meetings.
      • If requesting money for administrative activities, put it in the leadership plan.

Filling out the Forms

  • NIH does not have co-PIs. Do NOT check the box on the SF 424.
  • Include Commons ID for each PI in the "Credential, e.g. agency login" field on the Research and Related Senior/Key Person Profile form.
  • Put only the contact PI's name and Commons ID on the SF 424 cover page. He or she must be affiliated with the applicant institution.

Read the Grant Application Guide for additional instructions.