Skip to content


Sponsored Programs Roles and Responsibilities

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) solicits and accepts contracts and grants for research, training, patient care, and public service projects from a variety of federal and non-federal sponsors (including industrial and commercial concerns, universities, governments, private foundations, and other organizations). With the acceptance of extramurally funded awards, the University of Tennessee agrees not only to provide technical or scientific expertise, but also to manage each award in conformance with various fiscal and administrative regulations. Responsibility for managing these grants and contracts is necessarily shared throughout the UTHSC environment.

The terms and conditions applicable to grants and contracts vary extensively. However, there is a requirement common to all awards: The Principal Investigator and/or staff are responsible for the technical, administrative, and fiscal management of the project, including responsibility for any applicable subcontracts. In addition, the Department Chair or Center/Institute Director, Dean, and the Office of Sponsored Programs share in various aspects of proposal and award management activities.  These responsibilities are discussed below and summarized in the table and matrix that follow the discussion.

Responsibilities of the Principle Investigator/Project Director(s) (PI or PD)

The Principal Investigator has the freedom to choose the nature and direction of their research program and to disseminate the results of that research to the public, within any constraints imposed by the funding agency.  S/he also is responsible for financial oversight of the project and filing required reports, per its terms and conditions.

The PI is the individual with responsibility for the technical, administrative, and fiscal management of a project, including any applicable subawards and subcontracts. As a practical matter, it is often necessary and appropriate to rely on staff members for assistance in carrying out much of this responsibility.  The PI and/or staff must:

  • Be knowledgeable, at the proposal stage, about appropriate agency and UTHSC guidelines and restrictions relative to the conduct of research, training, and public service programs, and be willing to adhere to such guidelines and restrictions.
  • Conduct the work supported by the grant or contract in a timely and professional manner.
  • Comply with the specific terms and conditions of each award as stated in the grant or contract documents and with all administrative requirements, as set forth in various sponsoring agency and UTHSC policy statements, concerning issues such as charging of costs, publication, patents, equipment screening, proprietary data, consultants, human subjects, animal subjects, computing equipment, recombinant DNA, cost sharing/matching, or regulated substances;
  • Assure that expenditures made prior to the receipt of a fully executed contract or grant award are incurred only after obtaining specific authorized approval, that expenditures do not exceed the total amount of funds awarded, and that specific budget category expenditure limits are adhered to.
  • Maintain budgetary control using departmental bookkeeping and cost control systems and monthly reconciliation.
  • Certify that all costs charged to each grant or contract specifically benefit the project being charged by reviewing and approving certifications of effort policy on salary charges to extramural awards] expended by employees, staff employee time sheets, payments of vendor invoices for goods and services, check requests (non-payroll), travel reimbursements, requisitions to and acceptance of charges from campus service units, and similar charges to the project. If it becomes necessary to make after-the-fact adjustments [see: Cost Transfer Policy] in the allocation of certified costs, the PI or other knowledgeable person must provide full justification and documentation of the costs being transferred.
  • Comply with the reporting requirements of each grant and contract which may include periodic progress reports, annual reports of project accomplishments, reports of inventions, reports of publications generated, reports of major items of equipment acquired, cost sharing/matching reports, and financial reports. Although the OSP is responsible for the preparation and submission of reports of expenditures, the PI must assure that all financial transactions, including cost sharing and matching, are properly recorded and/or documented in a timely manner so that the reports of expenditures can be submitted promptly.
  • Review the general ledger reports monthly and upon expiration of the grant or contract and adjust as may be necessary to assure that the general ledger is cleared of any expenses not applicable to the award. Such adjustments may include transferring outstanding liens, transferring items of expense not allowable under that grant or contract, and transferring overdrafts to other permissible fund sources.
Ensure that any subcontractors comply with the terms and conditions of each award as stated in the grant and contract documents and with all administrative requirements, as set forth in various sponsoring agency statements.
Faculty research roles and responsibilities (non- PI), Co-PI, Investigator, Lead Scientist, Sr. Scientist, (non-postdoctoral fellow roles)

Non-PI faculty have similar responsibilities to the PI, except for overall responsibility for project direction and reporting.  Collaborating investigators must:

  • Ensure that they are aware of the terms and conditions of the prime award;
  • Ensure that expenditures are in accordance with sponsor and university regulations, policies, and procedures;
  • Coordinate with the PI any approvals for restricted expenditures such as: equipment, the addition of a subaward or the addition of a consultant;
  • Maintain knowledge of and compliance with University procedures related to sponsored research;
  • Attend research team meetings and promptly provide required or requested information for internal and external reports associated with the award;
  • Disclose financial conflicts of interest to the PI;
  • Obtain and maintain applicable IACUC, IRB, IBC, and EHA training and approvals before initiating a research project;
  • Disclose prior disbarment/suspension or proposed disbarment; and
  • Verify that their project staff have signed University Patent Agreements
  • Faculty conducting human subjects research should also refer to the section below on the roles/responsibilities of clinical research coordinators.
Trainee research roles and responsibilities

Post-Doctoral Fellows and graduate students must:

  • Seek and follow faculty guidance on scientific and other procedures (e.g., allowable uses of grant funds);
  • Maintain knowledge of and compliance with University procedures and policies related to sponsored research;
  • Disclose financial conflicts of interest to the PI;
  • Obtain applicable training in and practice responsible conduct of research; and
  • Obtain applicable IACUC, IRB, IBC, and EH&S, approvals/training.
Research coordinator research roles and responsibilities 
  • Manage all aspects of conducting clinical trials under the direction of the PI;
  • Maintain in-depth knowledge of protocol requirements and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) per FDA regulations;
  • Provide sound conduct of the clinical trial (including recruitment, screening, enrollment, and follow-up of eligible subjects per protocol);
  • Maintain accurate and complete documentation (e.g., regulatory documents, signed consent forms, IRB approvals, source documents, drug dispensing and subject logs, and study-related communication);
  • Provide timely management of all aspects of the trial (e.g., completing case report forms, data entry, reporting adverse drug experiences [ADEs], and managing caseload and study files)
  • Communicate protocol-related problems to the management staff (e.g., questions regarding the conduct of the clinical trial, possible ADEs, or subject compliance) and
  • Maintain professional conduct in the presence of subjects, research staff, sponsors, monitors, auditors, et cetera.
  • Coordinate with OPS for assistance with questions related to the allowability of expenditures or any other matter related to the proper management and stewardship of the Clinical Trial Agreement.


Department research administrator research roles and responsibilities
  • Support project investigators in the development of proposals;
  • Thoroughly understand unallowable, direct, and facilities and administrative (F&A) costs;
  • Thoroughly understand and properly follow Cost Accounting Standards;
  • Show consistency in charging sponsored award costs; and
  • Ensure monthly review of project costs and obtain PI approval of same in a timely manner;
  • Maintain grant files within the department;
  • Coordinate with OPS for assistance with questions related to the allowability of expenditures or any other matter related to the proper management and stewardship of the grant or contract.
Department Chair or Center Director
  • Review and approve proposal submission
  • Verify availability of resources such as equipment/facilities
  • Certify academic soundness
  • Verify that project is compatible with PI’s other commitments
  • Approve cost sharing commitments
  • Verify that project adheres to related college/unit or department/center missions (academic/research goals)
  • Monitor researcher loads to assure that capacity is not exceeded
  • Oversee all rebudgeting activities on sponsored projects
  • Provide oversight on all aspects of program income
  • Provide oversight on the implementation of university and federal financial policies and regulations at the unit level
  • Ensure financial compliance with applicable regulations for sponsored projects within department/center and reports instances of noncompliance to OSP

Are accountable for all funds administered by units under their authority as well as for the coordination of all programmatic elements within their college.

 This includes:

  • Reviewing and approving all proposals to assure that the proposed project is consistent with the educational and professional objectives of the school or college and providing :
    • Verification that the resources (such as equipment and space) necessary to conduct the project are or will be available; and
    • Approving cost sharing and/or matching fund commitments contained in proposals
  • Endorsing requests for Facilities & Administrative cost rates at less than full recovery;
  • Providing guidance in sponsored programs matters that cannot be resolved at the departmental level;
  • Identifying appropriate unrestricted fund sources to cover overdrafts and/or disallowances that Department Chairs within the school or college have not been able to cover with funds under their jurisdiction [Cost Transfer Policy];
  • Promoting compliance with research policies and procedures
Vice Chancellor for Research

The Vice Chancellor is the primary signatory for research contracts and other related research agreements.  The Vice Chancellor for Research oversees all aspects of research at UTHSC.  With respect to sponsored programs the VCR has oversight responsibility for policy issues associated with extramurally-funded research programs.

Included is the responsibility for:

  • Approving exceptions to PI eligibility;
  • Ensuring the appropriate resolution of research related disputes which arise concerning scientific propriety or involve research related policies;
  • Serving as the Institutional Official for the human subjects, animal welfare, and biohazards; with overall responsibility for managing research integrity.The Research Integrity Officer (RIO) reports directly to the VCR.
Research Integrity Office 

This office under the direction of the RIO has responsibility for the:

  • Responsible Conduct of Research policy and training
  • Managing Research Misconduct
  • Resolving Authorship Disputes
  • First tier review of research conflict of interest filing
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research 

Reporting to the VCR the Sr. Associate Chancellor for Research (SAVCR) is the secondary signatory for research contracts and other related research agreements

Included is the responsibility for:

  • Coordinating compliance with federal and other research regulations in matters such as human subjects, animal welfare, radiation safety biohazards;
  • Serving as Chair of the Research Conflict of Interest Committee;
  • Managing data metrics associated with allocation of space; and
  • Resolving disputes which arise concerning scientific propriety and other research related matters.

In addition to the Office of Sponsored Programs the following functional areas report to the SAVCR:

 Research Development
  • Announcement and management of limited nomination proposals
  • Managing Intramural Funding Opportunities and Resources
  • Assisting Faculty to find Extramural Funding and Resources to support their research endeavors
  • Providing Resources for Proposal and Manuscript Development
  • Providing the Research Toolkit (for planning, developing and conducting research projects)
Scientific Writing
The Office of Scientific Writing (OSW) is designed to assist research faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students in the writing of successful research grants and scientific manuscripts. The investigator must first complete a request form and provide a complete first draft to initiate the process.
University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF)

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes the commercialization of UT intellectual property, encourages an entrepreneurial culture, contributes to state and regional economic development, and promotes research and education to benefit the people of Tennessee and beyond. While UTRF is a separate entity from UT, it provides assistance and resources to the research activities of faculty, staff and students of the UT system. UTRF works to help move ideas to the marketplace.

Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)

The mission of the OSP is to provide helpful, timely, and accurate information and service to the UTHSC research and scholarly community in support of their pursuit, acquisition, and management of extramural funding. Under the direction of Associate Vice Chancellor for Sponsored Programs the office, is responsible for:

  • Developing necessary and appropriate policies and procedures related to proposal and award management;
  • Collecting institutional information related to proposal and award data;
  • Providing training to the research community related to sponsored programs administration.

OSP works collaboratively with many offices and business units at UTHSC to provide cradle to grave integrated services related to sponsored programs.

Proposal Review and Approval

  • Aiding with proposal preparation entailing researching questions related to the program announcement;
  • Reviewing and submitting proposals including obtaining institutional signature;
  • Reviewing and submitting any requested Just-in-time information

Award negotiation, acceptance, and Account set-up

  • Negotiating terms and conditions of the award and accepting awards on behalf of the University
    • OSP has responsibility for the negotiation of grant and contracts related to research including:
      • Non-disclosure agreements
      • Material Transfer Agreements
      • Data Use Agreements
      • Subawards and subcontracts
      • Research collaboration agreements
      • Industry sponsored research agreements
      • Clinical Trial Agreements
    • Establishing sponsored programs accounts and monitoring the budget of record
    • Establishing and monitoring (together with the PI and department) subawards and subcontracts

Managing the Award

  • Managing the financial aspects of the award: reviewing expenditures for allowability and working with the PI and department administrators to resolve any discrepancies and/or remove inappropriate charges
  • Facilitating any prior approval requests such as: supplemental funding requests, no-cost extensions, change of PI, re-budgeting, reduction of effort, et cetera;
  • Meeting sponsors needs for fiscal reports and accounting requests;
  • Managing the Effort Certification process;
  • Cost-sharing including preparing NIH Over the Cap calculation;
  • Helping with the preparation of, reviewing, and approving Cost Transfers and budget reallocation requests;
  • Reviewing and approving carryforward requests;
  • Providing the annual leave payout analysis;
  • Subrecipient monitoring; and
  • Working closely with the Office of Finance and Operations on any audits related to sponsored programs.

Award Closeout

  • Ensuring that awards are properly closed out which entails:
    • Preparing and submitting financial and closeout reports and documents as required by the sponsor;
    • Ensuring all appropriate documentation has been submitted and is in the file; and
    • Coordinating with the University Technology Research Foundation (UTRF) to ensure that all patent and technology transfer information has been reported to the sponsor.
  • Maintaining archival award records.

Last Published: Apr 13, 2020