Lead Researcher Eligibility

Lead Researcher and Principal Investigator Differences

Principal Investigator eligibility for a Contract or Grant is separate from Lead Researcher eligibility for research with human  subjects. In making this distinction, UCI recognizes both the added responsibility associated with research involving humans and the research contributions of all members of the University community. Therefore, there are separate, but related, criteria to determine eligibility for these activities.

If an individual meets the criteria for Principal Investigator by virtue of their University appointment status, s/he may also serve as Lead Researcher on a research protocol involving humans. If an individual does not meet the criteria for Principal Investigator s/he may serve as Lead Researcher if s/he obtains a Faculty Sponsor or the activity.

Who May Serve as Lead Researcher of a UCI Protocol Application?

Individuals serving as Lead Researcher (LR) on IRB, protocols must have a formal affiliation (i.e., a faculty or staff appointment; enrolled student) with UCI. The type of appointment an individual has with UCI determines whether they may serve as a Lead Researcher on their own or whether a Faculty Sponsor is required:

  1. Senate eligible faculty and academic administrators may serve as LRs of protocols.
  2. Non-senate faculty and certain researchers with paid appointments of 50% or more may serve as LRs of protocols.
  3. Any other UCI-affiliated individuals (e.g., students, volunteer faculty members and staff) may serve as LRs of protocols if they have a Faculty Sponsor whose appointment meets #1 or 2 above).

Eligibility Table

Series and TitlesPrincipal Investigator Eligibility (1)Lead Researcher Eligibility
Tenure/Tenure Track
Assistant, Associate, or Professor
(includes Emeriti)
(includes Emeriti)
Assistant, Associate, or Professor
Lecturer - Track & SOE
Lecturer w/ Security of Employment (SOE)
Clinical "X"
Assistant, Associate, or Professor of Clinical ______ (Dept. Name)
Clinical (With Salary)
Assistant, Associate, or Clinical Professor
Yes, if salaried at 50% or more Yes, if salaried at 50% or more. If less than 50%, Faculty Sponsor is required. (2)
Assistant, Associate, or Professor
Professional Researcher
Assistant, Associate, or Professor
All other Series, Titles, Appointments and UCI Students No (1) No, except with a Faculty Sponsor. (2)

(1) For exceptions, see Principal Investigator Eligibility on Sponsored Projects webpage

(2) The Faculty Sponsor must be eligible to be a Principal Investigator.

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