Office of the President

John Hennessy 1 October 2000

The Principal Investigator (PI) role at Stanford University brings significant rewards and responsibilities. PIs are responsible for the intellectual direction of research and scholarship and for the education and training of students. In carrying out these critical tasks, PIs are also responsible for compliance with laws and regulations that touch on all aspects of the research enterprise.

In 1999, Stanford announced a requirement for all PIs to complete a review of essential information related to the financial management of sponsored projects. Developed for PIs already at the University, it focused on stewardship of funds and recent audit findings. Now, 18 months later, most Stanford PIs have either attended the review session or certified their review of materials on a web site. Ongoing sessions will now focus on the needs of new faculty.

Regardless of their field of research and scholarship, all PIs should understand the requirements that flow from law and agency regulations touching on:
  • environmental health and safety
  • expenditures of project funds
  • financial disclosures and conflicts of interest
  • invention disclosures
  • reporting of scientific misconduct.

Depending on the type of research being done, there are also important requirements related to research methods, e.g., use of chemicals and other hazardous materials, human subjects, lab animals, radiological hazards and biosafety. To protect the individual as well as the university, Stanford requires each of its PIs to complete a brief review of these topics. PIs can do this by attending a 90-minute session (see schedule), or by completing a review of materials on the web at
Stanford University will not release project funding for a PI who has NOT satisfied this requirement.

There are two other web sites of particular value to new Stanford faculty, and I call them to your attention.

Stanford's Research Policy Handbook

"Getting Started in Research at Stanford"