Establish a scientific VFAR Working Group on bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics, with a charge to study these disciplines on an ongoing basis and periodically inform the agency as to how these disciplines can affect the identification and selection of drinking water contaminants for future regulatory, monitoring, and research activities. The committee acknowledges the importance of several practical considerations related to the formation of such a working group within EPA, including how it should be administered and supported (e.g., logistically and financially) or where it could be located. However, the committee did not have sufficient time in its meetings to address these issues or make any related recommendations.
The findings of this report and those of the Biotechnology Research Working Group (BRWG, 2000: Interagency Report on the Federal Investment in Microbial Genomics) should be made available to such a working group at its inception. The committee views the activities of a VFAR Working Group as a continuing process in which developments in the fields of bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics can rapidly be assessed and adopted for use in EPA’s drinking water program.
The working group should be charged with the task of delineating specific steps and related issues and time lines needed to take VFARs beyond the conceptual framework of this report to actual development and implementation by EPA. All such efforts should be made in open cooperation with the public, stakeholders, and the scientific community.
With the assistance of the VFAR Working Group, EPA should identify and fund pilot bioinformatic projects that use genomics and proteomics to gain practical experience that can be applied to the development of VFARs while it simultaneously dispatches the charges outlined in the two previous recommendations.
EPA should employ and work with scientific personnel trained in the fields of bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics to assist the agency in focusing efforts on identifying and addressing emerging waterborne microorganisms.
EPA should participate fully in all ongoing and planned U.S. government efforts in bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics as potentially related to the identification and selection of waterborne pathogens for regulatory consideration.