AHRQ Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy

Notice Number: NOT-HS-16-018

Key Dates
Release Date:  September 21, 2016

Related Announcements
 NOT-HS-17-008

Issued by
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (http://www.ahrq.gov/)

Purpose

The purpose of this notice is to announce AHRQ's acceptance of Multiple Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) in appropriate research grant applications.  This policy is effective with new applications submitted on or after October 1, 2016.

Introduction

The traditional AHRQ research project grant consists of a single Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) working with collaborators on an independent research project. Although this model continues to work well and encourages creativity and productivity, it does not always work well for multidisciplinary efforts and collaborations. Increasingly, health services research involves teams that vary in terms of size, hierarchy, location of participants, goals, disciplines, and structure. Additionally, projects may involve leadership from multiple PIs.

The multiple-PD/PI model supplements, and does not replace, the single-PD/PI model, and allows applicants and their institutions to identify more than one PD/PI on a single grant application. The goal is to encourage collaboration among equals when that is the most appropriate way to address a scientific problem.

Availability of Multiple-PD/PI Model

The multiple-PD/PI option is extended to AHRQ research grant applications submitted electronically through Grants.gov using the SF424 R&R application package. The multiple-PD/PI option will be accepted for applications submitted to current AHRQ research Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA).  The multiple-PD/PI option does not apply to R13 conference grant applications. If the multiple-PD/PI model is not allowed, the FOA will state that “Multiple Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) are not permitted.” under Section III, Eligible Individuals.

Specific features of the Multiple-PD/PI Option include the following:

•Applications

  • Standard Grant Applications Forms, including the PHS 398 and SF424 R&R, accommodate more than one PD/PI (see application forms at http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm)
  • For applications designating multiple PD/PIs, a new section of the research plan, entitled “Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan” (section 14 of the Research Plan Component in the SF424 R&R or Section I of the Research Plan in the PHS 398), must be included. A rationale for choosing a multiple PD/PI approach should be described.  The governance and organizational structure of the leadership team and the research project should be described, including communication plans, process for making decisions on scientific direction, and procedures for resolving conflicts. The roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the project or program should be delineated for the PD/PIs and other collaborators.  If budget allocation is planned, the distribution of resources to specific components of the project or the individual PD/PIs must be delineated in the Leadership Plan. 

•Principal Investigators

  • All PD/PIs are designated by the applicant institution
  • All PD/PIs share the responsibility and authority for leading and directing the project
  • All listed PD/PIs must be registered in eRA Commons with a PD/PI role type
  • All listed PD/PIs will have access to Status on the eRA Commons at https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/
  • The first PD/PI listed must be affiliated with the institution submitting the application and will serve as the contact PD/PI
  • The contact PD/PI will be responsible for communication between AHRQ and the rest of the leadership team
  • Being named contact PD/PI does not imply any particular role within the leadership team
  • When requested by the grantee institution at the time of a non-competing application, another member of the leadership team may assume the role of contact PD/PI
  • All PD/PIs will be listed on summary statements
  • All PD/PIs will be listed on the Notice of Award (NoA)
  • The role type, “co-PI” is not used by AHRQ
  • A change from a multiple-PD/PI model to a single-PD/PI model, or from a single-PD/PI model to a multiple-PD/PI model, requires the prior approval of the AHRQ Grants Management Officer and must be based on the scientific needs of the project.

•Review Criteria  

  • Standard AHRQ review criteria accommodate both single-PD/PI and multiple-PD/PI applications

•Awards Involving More Than One Institution

  • Awards involving PD/PIs at different institutions are managed using consortium agreements.

Change from an active single-PD/PI to a multiple-PD/PI award, or changes in the number or makeup of multiple-PD/PIs. 

The Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) must submit a formal prior approval request at the time of a non-competing application to the GMO that includes the following:

  • Scientific justification for the change to a multiple-PD/PI model, or change in the number or makeup of a multiple-PD/PI award.
  • A Leadership Plan, as detailed in the competing application instructions, including rationale for changing to a multiple-PD/PI approach or the number or makeup of multiple-PD/PIs. The governance and organizational structure of the leadership team and the research project should be described, including communication plans, process for making decisions on scientific direction, and procedures for resolving conflicts. The roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the project or program should be delineated for the PD/PIs and other collaborators.
  • Designation of a contact PD/PI who is affiliated with the grantee institution.
  • Biographical sketches for PD/PIs to be added.  The eRA Commons User Name is a required field on the biosketch for these individuals. 
  • Complete current Other Support information for PD/PIs to be added, or for any existing PD/PI whose effort on the project will change.
  • A description of how the loss of PD/PIs will affect the capacity to carry out the project.
  • Any budgetary implications of the change.
  • Any proposed changes in scope.

A grantee may only convert a single-PD/PI award to a multiple-PD/PI award if the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) explicitly allowed multiple-PD/PIs to be proposed at the time of the competing application. Under prior FOAs, a grantee may only convert a single-PD/PI award to a multiple-PD/PI award if the competing application was submitted on or after October 1, 2016. All listed PD/PIs must be registered in eRA Commons with a PD/PI Role; and the Commons User Name must be provided to the AHRQ as part of the prior approval request. 

Change from an active multiple-PD/PI to a single-PD/PI award. 

The Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) must submit a formal prior approval request at the time of a non-competing application to the GMO that includes the following:

  • Scientific justification for the change.
  • A description of how the loss of PD/PIs will affect the capacity to carry out the project.
  • Any budgetary implications of the change.
  • Any proposed changes in scope.
  • Complete current Other Support information for the proposed single PD/PI.

Decision to Use the Multiple PD/PI Model

The decision to apply for a single-PD/PI or a multiple-PD/PI grant is the responsibility of the investigators and the applicant organization.  Those decisions should be consistent with and justified by the scientific goals of the project.  Therefore, as with the preparation of any research project grant application, it is essential that investigators consider all aspects of the funding mechanism before submission. While there are some projects that clearly will be appropriate for the multiple-PD/PI model, the “fit” for other projects may not be so clear. All applicants proposing team science efforts are strongly encouraged to contact their AHRQ program officials at the earliest possible date to discuss the appropriateness of the multiple-PD/PI model for the support of their research

Once an award is issued reflecting multiple PD/PIs, it is the grantee's responsibility to ensure that any issues that may arise as a result of the proposed structure are handled in a timely manner so that the progress of the project is not negatively impacted. Issues surrounding leadership on a multi-PD/PI project will not be considered sufficient cause to accommodate a change to the scope of the project or to extend a project. If a change in structure is planned, it is the grantee's responsibility to seek AHRQ approval of the change, as described above, at least one month in advance of the proposed effective date so that AHRQ staff can make a determination regarding the request

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Francis D. Chesley, Jr., M.D.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Office of Extramural Research Education, and Priority Populations
Email: francis.chesley@ahrq.hhs.gov