Statement of Task

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The standing committee will examine, explore, and consider issues on the use of emerging science for environmental health decisions. For this process, it will provide a public venue for communication among government, industry, environmental groups, and the academic community about scientific advances in methods and approaches that can be used in the identification, quantification and control of environmental impacts on human health. The topics covered will build on recent NRC reports on toxicity testing and toxicogenomics and will explore new developments in toxicology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and related fields. Specifically, topics may include the use of information about gene-environment interactions in decisions regarding human health; the importance of environmentally mediated epigenetic modifications; use of mechanistic information about molecular pathways involved in toxicity; the impact of DNA repair processes on environmental health risks; application of technological advances in identifying chemical effects on gene, protein and metabolite expression; bioinformatics; computational and systems biology modeling; and methods for improving exposure assessment.

The Standing Committee will accomplish its task by convening public meetings of invited experts to inform the Committee and the sponsor about key scientific issues relevant to the use of emerging scientific information, knowledge, and approaches in regulation, disease prevention, education and personal choice, and clinical intervention and management of diseases caused and/or modified by environmental factors. Participants in the public meetings will include members of government, industry, environmental groups, and the academic community. These public meetings will also be made available to a broader audience via the internet, and highlights of the discussions will be included in regular newsletters prepared by staff. Specific topics will be selected by the standing committee after considering input from NIEHS and its federal partners. The standing committee itself will not issue reports, but the committee may develop recommendations for NRC consideration of future studies that would require separate approval and funding. Should the sponsor and committee agree that particular issues need more detailed treatment in the form of consensus studies or workshops with reports, such projects will be approved separately by the National Academies and will follow the usual NRC committee formation and report review procedures under the standing committee’s oversight. The cost estimate provides for funding of the standing committee activity, including public meetings and newsletters.