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Meet the Research Team

Many people work together to make clinical research successful. Each person plays an important role in making sure research is done safely and correctly. Learn about the people you will meet on your research team, the people who work behind the scenes, and the important role that you can play in a study.

The Principal Investigator

The Principal Investigator, or PI, is the doctor or scientist leading the study team. They plan, design, and supervise the study. The PI leads the other study team members, making sure everyone is playing their part. They review and analyze study data, track progress, and learn the results of the study.

Some studies have more than one PI. Large studies might have PIs at different hospitals across the country with a central PI making sure everyone works together and each location does things the same way.


Co-investigators are people with special training and knowledge (like doctors or scientists). They work with the PI to plan, design, and supervise the study. They might have special skills to help with a specific part of carrying out a study.

Clinical Research Coordinators

Clinical research coordinators follow the lead of the PI and Co-Investigators to complete daily tasks needed in the study. They often lead communications between study participants and other study staff.

During recruitment, clinical research coordinators might work to find research volunteers who are a good fit for the study. They will explain what they are studying, what volunteers will be asked to do, and the risks and benefits volunteers might face.

Once volunteers agree to participate in the study, the clinical research coordinator can help them complete study tasks and provide information to the study team. They can also answer any questions volunteers have.

Research Nurse

Some studies have a nurse with special knowledge of research activities. Research nurses follow the lead of the PI and co-investigators to complete daily study tasks. They might help collect labs or monitor volunteers' response to medicines or treatments. Like other members of the study team, a research nurse makes sure the study is conducted safely and correctly.

Institutional Review Board

A committee called the "institutional review board," or IRB, protects study participants. The IRB reviews all studies before they start. The IRB includes members of the public, doctors, and scientists. The IRB makes sure risks are as low as possible. The IRB also makes sure the study is ethical and is important to do. There are also laws and hospital rules that studies must follow to protect the people taking part in the study. The IRB makes sure studies follow these laws and rules.

Sponsors provide money for research to happen. They make it possible to pay the research team, buy supplies and equipment, provide medicines, treatments, or other interventions, and pay study volunteers. There are many different people and organizations that might sponsor research. Government agencies might sponsor research to learn more about public health. Patient advocacy groups might sponsor research to advance knowledge of a specific health condition they care about. Companies that make medicine and medical devices might sponsor research to learn whether medicines and treatments they develop are safe and work. Sometimes, even individuals will donate to sponsor research.

Research Participants

Study volunteers, also called research participants, are the final piece of the puzzle. Research could not happen without study volunteers like you who share their time, knowledge, and personal experience to help the study team. Having many different types of people volunteer helps ensure that any resulting discoveries will benefit a wide range of patients.

Research Education Topics