Who are "investigators"?
The HHS regulations at 45 CFR part 46 use the term "investigator" to refer to an individual performing various tasks related to the conduct of human subjects research activities, such as obtaining informed consent from subjects, interacting with subjects, and communicating with the IRB. For the purposes of the HHS regulations, OHRP interprets an "investigator" to be any individual who is involved in conducting human subjects research studies. Such involvement would include:
- obtaining information about living individuals by intervening or interacting with them for research purposes;
- obtaining identifiable private information about living individuals for research purposes;
- obtaining the voluntary informed consent of individuals to be subjects in research; and
- studying, interpreting, or analyzing identifiable private information or data for research purposes.
Investigators can include physicians, scientists, nurses, administrative staff, teachers, and students, among others. Some research studies are conducted by more than one investigator, and usually one investigator is designated the "principal investigator" with overall responsibilities for the study. In every human subjects research study, investigators have certain responsibilities regarding the ethical treatment of human subjects.