The Researcher's Tool Kit

Resources for working smarter

NIH Multiple PI Leadership Plans

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Can you believe it’s been seven years since NIH implemented the Multiple Principal Investigator Policy to encourage interdisciplinary and team approaches to research?   Per the NIH website, the goal of the Multiple PI policy “is to encourage collaboration among equals when that is the most appropriate way to address a scientific problem”.  The policy also gives scientists equal credit for leadership of the research program.  The traditional single-PI model continues to work well and continues to be the model for most of NIH’s research grants; however, the multi-PI option is available and allows scientific teams to better reflect the intellectual and scientific leadership within a given grant application.cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

When should I use the multiple PI model?

Ask yourself:

  • Which PI model best addresses the science being proposed?  Science should drive your decision.
  • Would the multiple-PI model best ensure optimal leadership for this specific project?

Some researchers reference an urban myth that funding chances are significantly improved when a multiple PI model is included in applications.  The data on new competing research project grant applications from 2010 through 2013. is finally in to address that notion.  See the table below for the award rates of single-PI applications versus multi-PI applications.

From Rock Talk:  Multi PI Award Rates

From Rock Talk: Multi PI Award Rates

Bottom line…preference for funding should NOT influence your choice of PI model.

What grant application components are needed for the multiple PI model?

⇒In applications designating multiple-PDs/PIs, a Leadership Plan is required.  The Leadership Plan must address the following:

  • rationale for choosing a multiple-PD/PI approach
  • governance and organizational structure of the leadership team and the research project, including communication plans, process for making decisions on scientific direction, and procedures for resolving conflicts
  • roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the project or program

Check out some Examples of Project Leadership Plans for Multiple PI grant applications

⇒Remember that an NIH biosketch is also required for each PI.  Review my recent post about the NIH biosketch for the details to be included.

More detailed information on the multi-PI policy and how it works is available on the NIH website and via frequently asked questions.


Author: Jeanine Jesberg

Jeanine Jesberg is a grants consultant, Certified Research Administrator (CRA), and licensed clinical speech-language pathologist (CCC-SLP) specializing in work with academic institutions and non-profit organizations. Her multi-faceted career includes several positions, including Program Director, Director of Research Operations, and Executive Director, at the University of Chicago as well as Manager of Research Administration at Northwestern University with knowledge that spans strategic planning, conference planning, program management, budget development, research operations, and research administration. She also has over 15 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist in the roles of clinician, Clinical Instructor, Lecturer, private practice Founder/CEO, and speaker. Jeanine currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.

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