I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as Executive Vice President and Provost, and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch. I am proud to be part of an institution with such a rich history and diverse community of people who are working to improve the lives of others.

Message from the Provost

April 7. 2014

Slobodan Paessler, DVM, PhDUTMB is participating in a multi-institutional project as a subcontractor to Inhibikase Therpaeutics, Inc. to evaluate kinase inhibitors for their ability to mitigate certain viral infections.  The subcontract, worth just over $1 million during year one, is titled "Multi-pathogen Antiviral Medical Countermeasure Deploying FDA Approved Drug Against Orthopoxvirus."  As part of the subcontract, UTMB will perform testing of kinase inhibitors in  multiple experimental models. The goal is to obtain data about efficacy of some of the FDA approved drugs against Ebola and Marburg virus.  Upon successful completion of the first year, an option year may be exercised with additional funding.

Principal Investigator for the UTMB subcontract, Slobodan Paessler, D.V.M., PhD, Professor in our Pathology Department, stated  "complex projects like this one require team effort across the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology as well as assistance from Regulatory Scientists and high containment specialists from the Galveston National Laboratory. None of this work could be accomplished without an active collaboration with many other UTMB investigators and I am very proud to have an excellent team behind me on this project. Drs. Nadezhda Yun, Barry Rockx, Chad Mire, Tom Geisbert and Trevor Brasel are highly experienced scientist that are actively supporting this contract and these scientists are absolutely essential to our success."

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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April 2, 2014

I am highly encouraged by the responses provided thus far for our AE 2020 community at-large survey. I am hoping that we'll ultimately have over 60% participation. We're on our way but still more responses.

Pie chart

I again ask for 5 minutes of your time to complete the anonymous, on-line survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/UTMBAEStratRefreshGandOprioritization

It's not too late to get involved - - share your opinion and help guide our future! I'm looking forward to seeing these response numbers double and triple this week!.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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March 24, 2014

MyPOWER LoginThe Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the availability of the faculty compensation web portal, myPOWER! http://aebizprodweb.utmb.edu/ProvostWebPortal/Login

myPOWER is a web-based faculty portal which allows faculty members to view their productivity, measure their performance, and forecast their performance-based incentives or adjustments under the Faculty Compensation Plan. myPOWER provides reports for actual performance for past periods and also allows some faculty to perform what-if and trend analysis by manipulating effort and productivity to see their projected impact on compensation. Only faculty who are eligible for the Compensation Plan will be able to log in to myPOWER.

The current iteration of the Dashboard featured within myPOWER is only available for those faculty members with clinical effort. We are in the process of developing a dashboard which will support faculty members whose focus primarily supports our research or education missions.

Please read the attached quick reference card to learn more about myPOWER including how to access and log into the application via the intranet. Once you've logged into myPOWER, you will find a button on the Home page entitled "myPOWER Overview" which will connect you to a short video tutorial about myPOWER. Please view the video to learn more about the functionality of myPOWER.

If you have any questions, please contact Mike Patriarca, Associate Director of Business Operations and Productivity Management, at extension 2-5138.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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March 21, 2014

Ms. Kay MarshallIt is with great pleasure that I announce that Kay Marshall, MBA, will begin serving in the Provost's Office as Assistant Vice President, School of Medicine Administration, effective May 5, 2014. In this newly established role, Ms. Marshall will oversee all administrative activities within the School of Medicine working closely with Provost Office leadership, Department Chairs, Center and Institute Directors, Administrators, as well as clinical and research faculty members.

Ms. Marshall comes to UTMB with an impressive background and tremendous experience as a latter in Academic Medicine. For the last six years, she was Chief Administrator for Duke University's top 10 ranked Department of Pediatrics - - home to 200 faculty members, more than 70 residents and 65 subspecialty fellows. In FY13, the department generated $42M in patient care revenue, had 138,000 outpatient visits, and supported $12.6M in sponsored research expense. During her tenure in Pediatrics, Kay successfully reduced the department's annual operating expenses by $2M, developed an electronic financial management tool, facilitated expansion of their clinical network and helped design a faculty effort reporting tool with School of Medicine and Practice Plan leadership. Before joining Duke, Kay served as Chief Administrator for Dermatology (2005 – 2008), Chief Administrator of OB/GYN (2001 – 2005) and Division Administrator of General Pediatrics (1999 – 2001), and staff Associate of the faculty Group Practice (1998 – 1999) at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. She has additional experience as a physician recruiter, financial analyst and operations analyst. She participated in Lean Healthcare Program at Michigan Quality System as well as the Duke Leadership Academy. She also served as Chair of the Academic Practice Compensation and Production Survey Committee for the Medical Group Management Association.

Please join me in welcoming Ms. Marshall to our UTMB family!

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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March 10, 2014

Dr. David NieselAfter a national search, I am pleased to announce that David W. Niesel, PhD, has been appointed Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He holds the J.P. Saunders Professorship in Graduate Biomedical Sciences and the Etheridge Professorship in the GSBS. Dr. Niesel has been interim VP and Dean in the GSBS since September, 2013. He has a faculty appointment in our Department of Microbiology and Immunology and holds additional appointments in our Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, Sealy Center for Structural Biology, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center of Tropical Diseases, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Institute for Medical Humanities.

Dr. Niesel received his PhD degree from North Carolina State University in 1980 and completed postdoctoral research fellowships at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, NC and in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Texas in Austin. He joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1983. He became interim Chair in 2000 and was appointed permanent Chair in 2004. During his time as Chair, the research profile of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology rose to a top 10 ranking in NIH funding among Microbiology and Immunology Departments nationally. In 2013, the department was ranked #5 in NIH funding.

For more than twenty years, Dr. Niesel has been engaged in graduate education. He became the Assistant Dean for Recruitment and Alumni in the GSBS in 1992. He is a co-founder of UTMB's summer undergraduate research program which is in its 22nd year. In 1997, Dr. Niesel was named Vice Dean of the graduate school. He has been committed to increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce and is the PI of two NIH sponsored training programs for minorities and the disadvantaged - "Bridges to the Doctorate" and the post baccalaureate "PREP" program.

Dr. Niesel actively participates in peer review for national and international agencies. His research has been nationally funded and is focused on investigating Streptococcus pneumoniae gene and protein expression and the assessment of the virulence potential of this pathogen under different environmental conditions. He has had experiments conducted on the space shuttle and on the International Space Station. Currently, he is investigating rapid methods to detect antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. He has numerous scholarly publications and co-holds 4 patents. He has trained and mentored graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral research fellows who have gone on to highly successful careers in academia and in other areas.

Dr. Niesel is co-creator and co-host of the Medical Discovery News, a radio show that is syndicated and broadcast on more than 110 stations in 16 states and in Puerto Rico and three countries. This program and companion newspaper column which is published in five Texas newspapers brings advances in biomedical research to the public and has won national and regional awards.

In summary, Dr. Niesel is a terrific scientist, educator, and administrator. Please join me in congratulating him on his new role at UTMB.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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March 6, 2014

Dr. LaposataAfter a national search, I am delighted to announce that Michael Laposata, MD, PhD, will be joining us as Chair of the Department of Pathology and holder of the 1955 Teaching Professorship in the School of Medicine. Dr. Laposata will transition into his new role on the 1st of July. He joins us from Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he has been the Edward and Nancy Foder Professor and Executive Vice Chair of Pathology. He is also Director of the Division of Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Laboratories and holds a faculty appointment in Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. Laposata received his MD and PhD degrees (program in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology) from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his postdoctoral research fellowship and residency in Clinical Pathology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Laposata comes to UTMB with a highly distinguished background in academic and clinical pathology. An acknowledged national and international expert, he has authored more than 170 publications including original peer-reviewed articles, 6 books, 12 book chapters, and numerous editorials and reviews.

Dr. Laposata's well-funded research efforts over the past two decades have focused on studies of fatty acid metabolism. Most recently he has served as PI for a U47 grant entitled "Pharmacogenomic Resource for Enhanced Decisions in Clopidogrel Treatment".

Dr. Laposata developed and implemented a clinical system where laboratory data are systematically interpreted by a physician with expertise in the area who then writes a patient-specific narrative paragraph. Here, physicians provide the same kind of interpretive insight as that provided by radiologists or anatomic pathologists. In 2005, Dr. Laposata was recognized by the Institute of Quality in Laboratory Medicine of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for this innovation.

Dr. Laposata is also a renowned educator. He received 14 major teaching prizes during his tenure as a Pathology Professor at Harvard University, as Director of Clinical Laboratories at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. These awards included a teaching prize in a competition across the entire University of Pennsylvania system and the highest teaching awards voted by the graduating class at Harvard Medical School three years in a row. In 2009, he received an Award for Outstanding Contributions in Education from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and, in 2012, he was awarded the American Society for Clinical Pathology H.P. Smith Sward for Distinguished Pathology Educator for his contributions in establishing and leading the Resident Review Course. Dr. Laposata has an excellent track record of mentoring faculty, fellows and house staff members. He has trained and mentored over 89 research students and postdoctoral research fellows who have gone on to highly successful career trajectories to become leaders in their fields.

In summary, Dr. Laposata is a superb clinician, scientist, educator, administrator and human being. Please join me in welcoming him to UTMB.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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February 28, 2014

Dr. Jim MahonIt is with great pleasure that I announce that Dr. Jim Mahon will begin serving in the Provost's Office as Associate Vice President, Communications, Recruitment and Special Projects in April.

As many of you are aware, Jim has been at UTMB for over two years as both the Interim Head of Research Services and Interim Administrator of Basic Sciences I. We are very pleased that he has agreed to take on this new assignment. He will be responsible for the development and execution of an overall communications plan for the Academic Enterprise and will be a key addition to our team as we address the needs of our community. Additionally, Jim will oversee our academic searches and work with Human Resources to enhance and streamline the faculty recruitment and onboarding process. Finally, he will work with the Development Office as our representative from the Provost's Office on donor-related development activities.

Please join me in welcoming Jim to his new position.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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February 14, 2014Teaching_Common_language

Interprofessional teamwork has the potential to greatly improve health outcomes. Input from all disciplines engaging in the patient care plan leads to better communication and understanding of one another's roles, which, in turn, helps to provide safer and higher quality patient care. We, at UTMB, have been working together to create a culture of collaboration for a number of years. An excellent example is our annual Interprofessional Education Day, aneducational activity for students from our four schools that helps to instill the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork. This year's event is scheduled on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and includes a keynote address by Dr. Matthew Dacso, Director of the Center for Global Health at UTMB, regarding interprofessional global education. To register, click on the flyer to the right or here: http://fs16.formsite.com/infopathic/form23/index.html. Please read carefully and register early; on-site registration will be unavailable on the day of the conference.

Students are encouraged to participate in this event barring conflicting course activities.  Release from scheduled activities should be at the discretion of your course director.

Note: Some students may be eligible for course credit for participating. Please check with your respective course director for details.

For more information, students may contact Carol McCoggins at 409 747-0203 or email cvmccogg@utmb.edu.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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February 11, 2014

I am very pleased to announce that UTMB's Revenue Cycle Operations reported a strong cash month for January 2014. We exceeded our targeted cash collections for our hospital and professional services by $330,000 and $170,000, respectively. This is truly a team effort among our staff members in Finance, Billing, and Coding, and healthcare providers. We deeply appreciate their continued contributions to UTMB and, more specifically, to our revenue cycle goals and objectives.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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February 3, 2014

UTMB Center for Addiction ResearchThe City of Galveston recently honored the UTMB Center for Addiction Research with a Proclamation in support of National Drug Facts Week (NDFW), which was held on Jan. 27th through Feb. 2nd. This initiative, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, encourages teens to ask questions about drug abuse and addiction, and, in return, receive scientifically-based answers from top experts in the field. For the past several years, the Center has partnered with the Bay Area Council on Drugs & Alcohol to support NDFW activities at local middle and high schools.

Pictured L to R: Dr. Jonathan Hommel, Assistant Professor, Pharmacology & Toxicology and member, Center for Addiction Research; Norman Pappous, Galveston City Council - District 4; and Mary Beth Trevino, Outreach Coordinator, BACODA.

Please join me in thanking our Center for Addiction Research members for their efforts to raise awareness and prevent substance abuse.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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January 30, 2014

Dr. BeasleyIn 2012, an unexpected resurgence of the West Nile virus (WNV) occurred, with Texas accounting for more than one third of the cases in the U.S.A. Our scientists are pursing innovative prevention strategies against this severe and potentially fatal disease. To further our research in this area, I am pleased to announce that UTMB has been awarded a two-year, $500,000 grant from the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation to expand its research on the development of a WNV vaccine. The project entitled "Development of a West Nile Virus Vaccine Using a Novel Nanofiber Platform" is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort led by David Beasley, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and Jai Rudra, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology. Both investigators are scientists in the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development (SCVD).

Dr. RudraIn this project, our SCVD investigators will develop a nanofiber-based WNV vaccine candidate that is capable of stimulating protective, durable immunity after one or two doses. It will also enable them to examine the possibility of other nanofiber-based vaccines, with the long term goal of using this technology for several infectious and non-infectious diseases, enabling multiple vaccines to be given in one shot.

We are excited about this promising vaccine research, which could be very impactful. Please join me in congratulating Drs. Beasley and Rudra on their award.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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January 29, 2014

QiQi Zhou, MD, PhDI am pleased to announce that QiQi Zhou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine-Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, has been awarded a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) to study epigenetic regulation of gastrointestinal miRNA signaling. Dr. Zhou is PI of the project entitled, "Mechanisms of Altered Gastrointestinal Function," and G. Nicholas Verne, MD, Associate Chairman of Clinical Affairs and Director of the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, is Co-PI. The goal of Dr. Zhou's proposal is to determine the intra- and inter-cellular roles of unique miRNAs in the epigenetic regulation of down-stream receptor target genes in patients with chronic gastrointestinal diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Dr. Zhou's laboratory has developed innovative methods that combine unique miRNA recognition properties of locked nucleic acid modified oligonucleotide probes with fluorescence in situ hybridization using tyramide signal amplification technology to experimentally regulate expression of specific miRNAs that control key downstream targets such as the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and Opioid receptors.

Dr. Zhou has been a UTMB faculty member since 2011. She is an internationally recognized expert in epigenetic miRNA signaling mechanisms that regulate intestinal permeability, gastrointestinal inflammation, and intestinal neuroplasticity. Dr. Zhou was honored in 2011 with the International Rome Foundation Award for the Single Best Research Article on Molecular Gastroenterology at the Annual American Gastrointestinal Association Meeting for her landmark paper published in Gut entitled, "MicroRNA-29a Regulates Intestinal Permeability."  

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Zhou on her grant award.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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January 17, 2013

Dr. ForresterI am pleased to announce that Naomi Forrester, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, has been awarded a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to study Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), a re-emerging and potentially fatal disease that is transmitted to humans by the bite from an infected mosquito. Dr. Forrester is PI of the project entitled, "Effects of Arboviral Population Diversity on Transmission." Her research aims to provide valuable insight into the strategies the virus employs to successfully infect both the mosquito vector and mammalian host that will likely facilitate the development of more effective therapies.

Dr. Forrester joined UTMB in 2007. She currently serves as a member of the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development and Institute for Human Infections & Immunity. Her research focuses on the evolution and pathogenesis of emerging arboviruses, host interactions, and vaccine development.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Forrester on her grant award.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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January 10, 2014

Auditions will be held for the March 13th St. Vincent's Annual Benefit Concert (see announcement below for dates, times, and locations). This fundraiser directly benefits the St. Vincent's Student Clinic, a UTMB student-run free clinic that serves the uninsured and underserved people of Galveston County. Many thanks to our students, faculty and staff members who donate their time and talent to make the concert a fun and successful event each year. 

Auditions – St. Vincent's Annual Benefit Concert

Calling all musicians, dancers, singers, and other talented folks of the UTMB community to audition for the St. Vincent's Benefit Concert which will be held this spring. Auditions are scheduled as follows:

  • 10 a.m., Jan. 25 - Joe's Cafeteria
  • 6 p.m., Jan. 30 - Levin Hall Main
  • 10 a.m., Feb. 1 - Joe's Cafeteria

Please send an email to stvclinic@gmail.com with your contact information, a description of your performance, and props you may need for your audition (i.e., a piano). You will be notified of your assigned audition date and time. Please bring music and a playing device if you will need one for your audition.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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January 10, 2014

120 Years of NursingIn the newly released U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, UTMB School of Nursing has ranked #6 in the nation and #1 in Texas. The rankings are based on factors such as graduation rates, academic and career support services offered to students, and admissions selectivity. See the methodology. This is a remarkable achievement and a testament to our School of Nursing's strong commitment to our students and excellence in education.

Please join me in congratulating Dean Pam Watson and her colleagues (and students!) for their efforts.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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January 7, 2014

Scott WeaverUTMB researchers have been working to develop vaccines against some of the world's most dangerous mosquito-borne viruses. In a project funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Scott Weaver (Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology and holder of the John Sealy Distinguished University Chair in Human Infections and Immunity) and colleagues are working to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the chikungunya and dengue viruses. This $1.2 million, five-year grant award entitled, "Development of a Multivalen Chikungunya/Dengue Virus Vaccine" will help facilitate vaccine strategies to prevent and control these emerging infectious diseases. Investigations are performed in collaboration with Dr. John Rose (Yale University) who is Co-PI of the award. 

An internationally recognized virologist and vector biologist, Dr. Weaver has been a UTMB faculty member for nearly two decades. He currently serves as Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and Scientific Director of the Galveston National Laboratory. Dr. Weaver's research has provided valuable insight into tropical virology and the prevention of bioterrorism. He is the recipient of numerous NIH grants and has four patents in vaccine development.

 Please join me in congratulating Dr. Weaver and his research team on obtaining their award.

Sincerely yours,

DOJ_sig
Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS
Executive Vice President, Provost and
Dean of the School of Medicine
Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

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