Multiple PI Submissions

Many faculty consider submitting multiple Principle Investigator (PI) applications. Although in FY 2009, the success rate for these applications did increase, they have generally not fared as well as single PI submissions. This mechanism was designed to promote team science, and unless researchers can really demonstrate that including multiple PIs is integral to bringing transdisciplinary expertise together, they are likely better off with a single PI. The data below illustrates success rates for applications submitted to NIAID.

Success Rates* for NIAID Investigator-Initiated R01s

Application Type

FY 2008

(in percent)

FY 2009

(in percent)

Multiple PI



Single PI



*Excludes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) awards.

If you are considering a multiple PI application, please read the NIH guidance carefully. You should also consider a number of factors that NIAID has outlined, including:

  • Make sure the approach fits the science. The multiple PI option is for collaborative, usually multidisciplinary, research also known as team science. To succeed, each PI must play a key role executing the studies or making critical intellectual input into the project, and the research must require a very high degree of synergy.
  • If you’re a new investigator, know the caveats.
  1. It’s important to establish your own identity, which may be more difficult with a multiple PI application.         If your application includes an established PI, it will not qualify for the new investigator payline. You’ll
  2. qualify only if all the PIs are new.
  3. Once the application is funded, you will lose your new PI status.
  • It may be more difficult to write a multiple PI application. Because they are more complex, reviewers may be more likely to find problems.  It can also be hard to correlate the pieces so they are well integrated and coordinated.
  • It’s best if at least one of the PIs has already been a PI on an NIH grant.