Change of Principal Investigator SOP

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: PurposeProcedureContacts, and Links.

Some links will work for NIAID staff only.


To change the principal investigator (PI) on a grant.


When a PI will be absent from a project for 3 or more consecutive months or reduce effort by 25 percent or more, recipients must request NIAID prior approval to appoint a permanent replacement or an interim PI who will step down when the original PI returns.

They must also request prior approval to change from a single PI to a multiple PI award or remove PIs from a multiple PI award. NIAID may approve this change without peer review of the new leadership team and Leadership Plan.

If NIAID denies a request, it will provide rationale for the rejection. Recipients can either fix the problems with their proposed new PI or nominate another investigator, but if they can't find an acceptable replacement, they must ask NIAID to bilaterally terminate the grant.

In response, NIAID issues a revised Notice of Award with a project period end date that coincides with the PI's departure date.

Principal Investigators

  • Request a change in PI by electronically submitting a prior approval request using the Prior Approval, Change of PD/PI feature in eRA Commons. Only the signing official can initiate and submit the change of PD/PI request and it can only be made for an active award and within the budget period. The following information must be included in the request:
    • Reason for the change
    • Updated Other Support
    • Any changes in the level of effort
    • Date the original PI will return, if applicable
    • Biographical sketch of the proposed new PI
    • Certification of human subjects training if the proposed new PI will be working with human subjects
    • Budget changes resulting from the change in PI
  • For a change of PI on a construction grant, do the following:
    • Make sure the proposed new PI has the following roles:
      • Highly-placed institutional official at the level of dean or equivalent
      • Responsibility and authority for research activities at the recipient organization
      • Authorization to commit institutional funds and resources
    • Your organization should submit a justification through eRA Commons by an authorized business/signing official.
  • To change from a multi-PI to a single PI award, submit your request through eRA Commons with the following information:
    • Scientific justification for the change
    • Description of how the loss of PIs will affect the capacity to carry out the project
    • Budgetary implications of the change
    • Proposed changes in scope
  • To change from a single PI to a multi-PI award, submit your request through eRA Commons with the following information:
    • Scientific justification for the change
    • Leadership Plan as detailed in the competing announcement
    • Designation of a contact PI who is physically located at the recipient institution
    • Biographical sketches and other support information for additional PIs
    • Budgetary implications of the change
    • Proposed changes in scope
  • If NIAID does not approve a permanent change of PI, your signing official must notify the Director of NIAID’s Grants Management Program (GMP) in writing that the grant should be bilaterally terminated.

Check the NIH Grants Policy Statement for more information on changes in PI status.

Program Officers

  • Refer recipients to the appropriate grants management specialist.
  • Review requests to determine if a proposed new PI has enough expertise and time to devote to the project.
  • Make recommendation of approval or disapproval of the request to the grants management specialist.

Grants Management Specialists

  • Review a change of PI request to ensure the following:
    • Proposed PI has a formal written agreement with the recipient organization.
      • The agreement should specify an official relationship between the parties even if the relationship does not involve a salary or other form of remuneration.
      • The PI is not required to be an employee of the recipient.
    • Proposed PI is not listed as an excluded party in the System for Award Management (SAM).
    • Proposed budget changes are acceptable.
    • Total time and effort will not exceed 12 calendar months.
    • Certification of human subjects training, if applicable, is included.
  • Complete a change of PI request within 30 days.
  • If the request is for an interim PI:
    • Make sure the interim PI has the appropriate qualifications and available time and effort.
    • Issue a revised Notice of Award.
  • If the request is for a permanent replacement or you cannot approve the interim PI, follow GMP internal instructions.

For more information, see internal NIH staff guidance How-To: Change of Principal Investigator on the NIH Extramural Intranet.


Recipients with questions should contact the program officer or grants management specialist listed in the eRA Commons. For more information, read Contacting Program Officers and Grants Management Specialists.

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