Each IGERT trainee works on a research project that serves as the core of his/her doctoral dissertation. The IGERT Executive Committee is responsible for defining broad topic areas as priority research thrusts requiring interdisciplinary collaboration. These priorities are set under advisement of our External Advisory Board (EAB), a group of international experts in the field. Importantly, IGERT trainees will take the lead in developing their own research ideas and dissertation proposals. This process is an essential part of the personal growth necessary for development of leadership qualities, and provides trainees with ownership in the IGERT program and their own careers.