Understand who can be a principal investigator at Fraser Health and the responsibilities overseen by the principal investigator (also known as the study lead).

Updated December 21, 2022

Who can be a principal investigator?

Fraser Health employees and privileged physicians are allowed to conduct research in the health authority. Any external researchers wishing to conduct research at Fraser Health facilities must sign an affiliation agreement with Fraser Health (i.e. academic affiliated researcher).

For regulated clinical trials, only a licensed physician or dentist (if for dental purposes only) who is entitled to provide health care under the laws of B.C. can assume the role of a principal investigator. They must have privileges with Fraser Health and are only allowed to conduct research at hospital sites for which they have privileges. There must be no more than one principal investigator at each clinical trial site.

What are the responsibilities of a principal investigator?

Principal investigators are responsible for the overall conduct of their research study.

Please note that some sections below do not apply to affiliated researchers as their responsibility for financial oversight, grant requirements and hiring is to their academic institution.

The principal investigator oversees the following aspects of a study:

  • Study conduct

    The principal investigator is responsible for the ethical and scientific conduct of the research study, as well as ensuring that measures are in place to protect the privacy and safety of research participants and their personal information/data.

    The principal investigator also ensures that:
    • The study is registered in a publicly available, free-to-access, searchable clinical trial registry (e.g. ClinicalTrials.gov).
    • Study timelines are followed.
    • Recruitment and data collection are on time including putting measures into place to increase recruitment and data collection if behind schedule.
    • Study results are distributed as widely as possible through presentations or publications (if applicable).
    Learn more about these responsibilities by reviewing:
  • Approvals administration

    The principal investigator ensures all study approvals (REB and institutional approval) are in place prior to participant recruitment or data collection.
  • Financial management

    The principal investigator ensures the study does not go over budget and that grant funding agency policies and/or agreements with the sponsor are followed, including overseeing the payment of institutional overhead fees. The principal investigator is personally responsible for reimbursing any expenses that exceed the available study budget.
    Learn more about financial management.
  • Grant administration

    For grant-funded studies, additional administration is often required, such as submitting reports to the funder (e.g. progress reports, final reports and financial reports) and acknowledging the funder in all public communications (such as publications in journals, press releases, conference posters and any seminars).

    For all studies receiving funding from Tri-Council (e.g. CIHR) where Fraser Health is either the primary site or sub-site, Fraser Health researchers are required to submit an annual Statement of account (form 300). Form 300 summarizes the revenues and expenses incurred during the fiscal year for every research grant, and needs to be signed by the Fraser Health researcher and Fraser Health Finance.
  • Hiring of research support staff

    Paid staff Unpaid staff
    Consider hiring a research assistant or research coordinator to assist in study management.

    Tasks typically include:
    • participant recruitment
    • participant consenting
    • data collection
    • data entry
    • participant follow-up
    • study start-up*
    • budget tracking*
    • compliance tracking*

    *tasks typically done by more experienced assistants / coordinators

    See tips on hiring research staff document for more information.


    The Clinical Trials and Business Development unit at the Department of Evaluation and Research Services offers fee-based research services to Fraser Health investigators. For more information, please contact Research Development Specialist or Manager, Clinical Trials and Business Development.
    It is often the case that the study budget is insufficient to hire paid staff. In this case, volunteer research assistants or co-investigators or sub-investigators can be considered.

    Often, the research team (co-investigators or sub-investigators) takes on a larger role in the study with a small budget. The benefits of being a co-investigator include:
    • co-authorship of publications arising from the research
    • opportunities to present the research at conferences and seminars
    • opportunity to gain research expertise and experience
    • opportunity to be a co-applicant on a research grant
    • opportunity to build a research curriculum vitae / resumé

    Research teams are encouraged to seek collaboration with academic researchers. This often results in mutually beneficial relationships: academics share their research expertise, clinicians share their clinical expertise and access to patients or health care data.

    See the authorship agreement template to help you formalize your collaborations.