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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

July 17, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Faculty, students and future students are represented in this set of stories. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about their contributions.

• We are proud to see Sally Santen, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for assessment, evaluation and scholarship, will lead the evaluation of the Accelerating Change in In Medical Education Consortium initiative through a contract with the American Medical Association. The consortium schools are working together to develop common solutions in key areas such as health system science, coaching and competency based education. As the grant evaluator, Dr. Santen will work with the AMA team to determine outcomes and publish findings.

• If you’re from a small town, you may have a family doctor who has been present at the most important moments of your life. But what happens to patients when that doctor leaves? That’s what research by the Class of ’21’s Paulius Mui is trying to uncover. “Some people are losing their best friend in that regard. A rural physician really ties together a community,” says the fmSTAT student and future family physician. His idea is to capture patients’ perspectives and use them to inform policy decisions to attract and retain primary care physicians to low-population, sometimes isolated, places.

• Women in Science hosted its 12th annual Girl Scout Science Fun Day, bringing 115 young women to the MCV Campus for a day filled with live demos and hands-on experiments. “I hope that we can spark any interest they have in science and they can see us as women in these roles and know they can do it, too,” says Sarah Thomas, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Pathology and one of the program volunteers.

• Congratulations to the Class of 2019’s Mark Feger whose dissertation research on ankle injury rehabilitation has been honored by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. That background serves the prospective orthopaedic surgeon well. “Orthopaedic surgeons help people do the things they love,” Feger says. “That means going for a walk or a run, spending time with their families, or going back to their job. We help people maintain their function and do the things they enjoy doing.”

With every good wish,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

July 11, 2018

Welcoming our new colleagues and reflections on your many accomplishments ….

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”
– Vince Lombardi

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Welcome to this new academic year and thank you for all your effort and activities during the past year. As we kick off this academic year, we also welcome many colleagues who are new to our School of Medicine ….. we are joined by 189 first year medical students (starting shortly), 185 new graduate/certificate students (starting in the fall), 144 residents and also clinical and research fellows, and 43 new full time faculty who have/will join us over the coming 2 months.

Please welcome all of our new colleagues.

As we embark on another academic year, I would like to briefly reflect on some of your collective accomplishments over this past academic year…. many of which have been commented on earlier and so I won’t go into details again here… though at broad level, you all have excelled in many ways, including ……

• Many of you received new federal grants and new foundation support for your research. Congratulations and thank you for your leadership.

• We renewed our CTSA grant, a further $21.5 M in federal support for research career development and community outreach… the largest NIH award in university history.

• Several of you held leadership roles in national and regional academic organizations.

• Some of you as faculty published your science in premier journals, while others as medical students or residents experienced your first presentation at one of our research days.

• Many of you, as trainees or faculty, volunteered your scarce time and your great expertise to help underserved people .. whether that was “at home” or in Vietnam, South America or other far-flung destinations. Thank you.

• We contributed to the university-wide new Strategic Plan and to defining our strategic research priorities.

• Our Development Team, with your support, attained more than $33 million in philanthropy over the last year, including new scholarships, endowed chairs, and programmatic support.

• We opened a remarkable new home for Virginia Treatment Center for Children [VTCC] …….a great new asset for the children of The Commonwealth of Virginia … congratulations to all in the Department of Psychiatry, our pediatrics and our community partners who made this happen.

• We “broke ground” on a very exciting collaboration and new rehabilitation facility in our partnership with Sheltering Arms.

• We “broke ground” on the new ambulatory facility, the largest clinical building ever committed to (a capital investment of $349 million) and which will redefine our clinical footprint on the MCV Campus as we create world-class facilities to match our world-class care.

• You gave great care to so many Virginians, as evidenced by many grateful patient stories and compelling feedback, with also very impressive enhanced performances in our Quality metrics.

• You have increased our OR volume and outpatient volume, achieved a remarkable reduction in inpatient average Length of Stay in the 4th Quarter to 6.01 days, over 24 % of daily discharges now occurring before 12 noon, and other efficiencies in accordance with Vision by DESIGN.

• Our medical students matched to great programs, including 34 staying with us for residency at VCU.

• We recognized and honored several of our marque programs, including our Pauley Heart Center (recognizing that the first human heart transplant at our institution was performed here 50 years ago), our Evan-Haynes Burn Center (the oldest civilian burns unit in America), and the Hume-Lee Transplant Center which has performed over 5,000 organ transplants.

These are just some of the highlights of a busy academic year and of your impressive accomplishments. More details have been presented on our School of Medicine website and/or in individual departmental communications.

In the aggregate, your accomplishments are broad and compelling.

We can head into this new academic year with pride and enthusiasm. Also, three of our faculty will shortly receive University Awards for Excellence at the 36th Annual Faculty Convocation which you are invited to attend on August 22 at 4pm. Dr. Arun Sanyal is receiving the University Award of Excellence, Dr. Paul Wehman the Distinguished Scholarship Award and Dr. Stephanie Call the Distinguished Teaching Award.

On another note – and a very big deal! – we have the great honor of hosting the Governor of Virginia, the Honorable Ralph Northam, who will give a special grand rounds at our medical school on Monday August 20th at 12pm in the Learning Theater in McGlothlin Medical Education Center. To have the Governor, a long practicing pediatric neurologist in the Commonwealth, address us as a distinguished presenter is truly a privilege. All are welcome to attend this very special lecture which will focus on the topic of addiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We will send you a further announcement later this month. In the meantime, please mark this event on your calendar.

Finally, I wish each of you every success in this academic year… I know that you will do great things …and …we will have a lot of fun.

Thank you for all you do and for your leadership,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

July 3, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Here are a few stories that remind me of the value of philanthropy, mentorship and service to our profession:

• We’ve hit an important mark in the Make It Real Campaign for VCU, with the university having raised $613.5 million toward its $750 million goal. In addition, the medical school is at nearly 75 percent of its $300 million campaign goal, paving the way for a strong finish in 2020. I could not be more grateful for the generous support of our alumni, friends, faculty and staff who have helped us reach this milestone. You are leading the way in defining the future of medicine on the MCV Campus.

• We’re proud of the medical school’s reputation for great mentors, and especially proud of how biostatistician Al Best, Ph.D., inspired alumna Stacey Cofield, Ph.D. As his teaching assistant for three years, Cofield watched in amazement as students who resented having to take a statistics class were transformed into engaged learners. It changed her career’s trajectory, and now she’s been honored for her own teaching at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

• The medical school has a longstanding commitment to serving our academic medicine colleagues and mission. Darrell Griffith, M.P.H., CMPE, the school’s senior associate dean of finance and administration and executive director of MCV Physicians, exemplifies that spirit of service. He has been appointed by the Association of American Medical Colleges to the steering committee of the Group on Business Affairs that advances administrative and fiscal management in academic medical institutions.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories.

With every good wish,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

July 2, 2018

Welcome Dr. Greg Hundley, new director of VCU Health Pauley Heart Center

Dear Colleagues,

William Gregory Hundley, M.D.We are pleased to welcome William Gregory Hundley, M.D., as the inaugural director of the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center, effective July 1.

Dr. Hundley is a proud alumnus of VCU School of Medicine. With his outstanding reputation as a physician-scientist and mentor, Dr. Hundley is a perfect fit as the first director of the Pauley Heart Center. His expertise in preventive heart care and his research in cardio-oncology will build on our strengths in the Pauley Heart Center and VCU Massey Cancer Center. This is central to our strategy to attain comprehensive cancer center designation for Massey. Additionally, Dr. Hundley will elevate the national prominence and federal research portfolio of the Pauley Heart Center.

His research focuses on preventive heart care for patients undergoing chemotherapy, which has been found to increase the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular issues a decade or more after treatment. He was the first in the world to use MRI to visualize and measure blood flow in coronary arteries and the first to demonstrate that MRI stress testing can identify those at risk of heart attack.

Dr. Hundley comes to us from the Wake Forest School of Medicine where he served in several roles over the past 22 years, most recently as the medical director of the Reynolds Tower Cardiovascular Imaging Facility.

He currently serves as a member of the American College of Cardiology Integrated Learning Committee, Cardiovascular Imaging Committee and the American College of Cardiology Imaging Network. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians; a member of the Clinical Cardiology Council and CV Radiology Council of the American Heart Association; and a member of the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

A native of Richmond, he earned his bachelor’s degree from William and Mary and after medical school here, he completed his internal medicine residency and fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Parkland Memorial Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

We are grateful to our many colleagues who supported bringing Dr. Hundley “back home,” in particular Dr. Vigneshwar Kasirajan, the Stuart McGuire Professor and Department Chair of Surgery; Dr. John Nestler, the William Branch Porter Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine; Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen, the Kimmerling Endowed Chair, the Division Chair of Cardiology and Director of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing; and Dr. Ann Fulcher, chair of the Department of Radiology. Their leadership has been pivotal in the development of the Pauley Heart Center, and supporting Dr. Hundley’s recruitment. We have a great legacy of leadership in cardiovascular medicine at VCU and Dr. Hundley will further advance that tradition of leadership.

The recruitment of Dr. Hundley would not have been possible without the support of our community, in particular the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Stan Pauley and their family.

In conjunction with Dr. Hundley’s arrival, a new Cardiovascular Imaging Suite, opening to patients in July, brings together personalized cardiovascular evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for both Pauley and Massey patients. Dr. Hundley and Dr. Gordon Ginder, director of VCU Massey Cancer Center, will work closely together to identify and understand the connection between oncology treatments and cardiovascular events for our patients.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Hundley to the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center and back home to Richmond.

Warm Regards,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System
Deborah Davis, F.A.C.H.E.
Chief Executive Officer, VCU Hospitals and Clinics
VCU Health System Vice President for Clinical Services, VCU

June 25, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Some stellar stories have crossed my desk recently, and I wanted to share them with you:

  • Our congratulations go to Curtis N. Sessler, M.D., F’85, who has been honored by the Association of Critical-Care Nurses with its Pioneering Spirit Award. According to nursing leaders, Dr. Sessler was ahead of his time in fostering an environment where physicians, nurses and other members of the care team work together.
  • Over the past year, the Class of 2019’s Joanne Chiao spent her Friday mornings volunteering at a local retirement community where she served as a painting partner for adults with early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia. She wrote about her experience in a first-person account for the AAMC’s Aspiring Docs Diaries blog, describing how it improved her ability to understand how individuals perceive their health and disease. “Where previously, I would have honed in on the science, the clinical dilemma and its associated decision-making — I saw instead, a person’s frustration, their struggle with a chronic condition. I heard how distressing and debilitating the pain was. I heard, but, even more, saw, how that pain stole her autonomy, function, and above all, quality of life.”
  • We’re grateful to PharmTox alumna Teri Stockham, Ph.D., who wants to break the cycle of the synthetic drug epidemic and thinks the next generation of forensic toxicologists are poised to do it. That’s just one reason she endowed a scholarship to support forensic science graduate students in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences. “I made it through 10 years of education through scholarships and working – no loans or family assistance. I feel blessed to be in this position at this time in my life and wanted to give back.”

Chronicle - Spring 2018 coverIn addition, the most recent issue of the MCV Foundation’s Chronicle of Giving includes extensive coverage of our medical school. This publication that goes to the MCV Campus’ alumni and friends features a cover story on the Virginia Treatment Center for Children’s new facility.

The issue also spotlights the Class of 1972’s Don Sanders, M.D., who with his wife, Terry, has made a gift in support of the fmStat Scholarship Fund. The publication instructs readers on how to use planned giving to support the MCV Campus, featuring our friends Nancy and Craig Canning as an example, and also recognizes the Hume-Lee Transplant Center’s 60th anniversary, Dr. Gerry Moeller’s appointment to the Wright Distinguished Chair and a number of faculty awards and leadership roles. I’m also appreciative that they included an update from me that reflects on the past 18 months.

You can read all this and more in the spring 2018 issue of the Chronicle of Giving that’s posted online.

I hope you’ll enjoy these stories.


With every good wish,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

June 21, 2018

You’re only as good as your team

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Yesterday we welcomed 144 new physician-colleagues to our VCU family. We are joined by our PGY1 residents, 27 of whom are VCU SOM graduates and many of whom come from all across the U.S. – and beyond. These vital and talented new colleagues will be the “front line physicians” for our health system, often being the first contact with patients and their relatives. How they practice will reflect on all of us.

Please welcome and support these great new doctors. They will need – and deserve – our attention and support during this formative transition of their early careers. Your wisdom, experience, mentorship and support will be invaluable to them. Please also watch out for future leadership, educational, research and quality science opportunities for them so that they can maximize their learning experiences with us.

Our thanks also to Dr. Aboff, each departmental program director and GME program leaders and their staff for bringing such fine doctors to VCU. Our thanks also to Dr. Aboff for an excellent year-end review of all our residency programs that was very well received at today’s VCUHS Board of Directors meeting.

Let’s welcome and support our newest team members. They will make us proud.

Thank you for your leadership.

Warm regards,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

June 12, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

I like to keep you informed about stories that may appeal to you. Here are some new ones that have crossed my desk:

  • We’re proud to see Nathan Lewis, M.D., honored as Clerkship Director of the Year by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. The alumnus of the Class of 2009 now directs our Emergency Medicine Department’s clerkship for M4s and also co-hosts EM Stud, a podcast for medical students around the country considering careers in emergency medicine.
  • At the medical school’s graduate student recognition ceremony earlier this spring, the room was full of student awardees along with graduates, mentors, family and friends celebrating the scientific achievements of more than 50 graduate students. “We’re proud of our students and always enjoy highlighting their accomplishments,” says Michael Grotewiel, Ph.D., the medical school’s interim associate dean for graduate education. “But this year was exceptional because we got to announce that seven students were nominated for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – and two have been selected to attend!” More than five dozen SOM-level awards and 18 departmental-level awards were presented at the ceremony.
  • We salute the Class of 57’s Wil Blechman who has been inducted into the medical school’s chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in celebration of his second career advocating for the world’s youngest citizens. After a more-than-30-year career as a rheumatologist mostly focused on older adults, he turned his attention as president for Kiwanis International to the issues that can positively or negatively affect the development and well-being of children.
  • Baseball. Fathers. Sons. It’s got all the classic elements of a feel-good Father’s Day story. The Class of 2018’s Ron Rosenberg used a cross-country tour of every Major League Baseball stadium to raise money for SportableRVA – and it was all inspired by the man who sparked in him a love of sports as well as a love for medicine — his father Neil Rosenberg, an alumnus of our Class of 1978.

You may also want to check out the latest issue of Impact, the quarterly publication from VCU’s Development and Alumni Relations office. Vol. 14 includes a pair of terrific feature stories that show the impact that philanthropy has in the medical school. You can find the stories online.

  • An International Outlook, a 4-page first-person feature by Dr. Lance Hampton on his volunteer trips to Vietnam. Dr. Hampton, who holds the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer Jr. Professorship in Urology, uses these trips to help patients – both at home and abroad.
  • Better Together, a 4-page feature on Dr. Bruce Rubin’s engineering expertise has brought about an award-winning partnership between industry and academia to improve the lives of children with lung diseases. Dr. Rubin holds the Jessie Ball DuPont Distinguished Professorship.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories.

With every good wish,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

June 8, 2018

Doing what we do best…

Dear Friends-Colleagues:

Yesterday, we held the 15th annual VCU Health Resident-Fellow Research Day. It was a terrific showing – some 16 oral presentations and over 70 poster presentations. The range of topics was impressive – from molecular biology of cancer, through comparative evaluations of advanced surgical technologies, to quality outcomes and standardizing the discharge process… and lots more. There was a good mix of basic science and clinical science, with projects ranging in design from retrospective studies to prospective multicenter national consortia. Also, significantly, many presentations were in collaboration with our colleagues at the McGuire VAMC. In every presentation, the dedication, scientific curiosity and commitment of our residents and fellows was clearly in evidence. So too was the mentorship and support of our faculty, who gave generously of their ideas, expertise, resources – including their most valuable resource – their time. Our thanks to all participants and supporters of this vital research symposium. Particular thanks go to Dr. Evan Reiter, Vice Chair, Department of Otolaryngology, who led the event and to the senior faculty who served on the panel of judges. Thanks also to Dr. Brian Aboff, Sr. Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Ms. Jessica Waugh, GME Curriculum & Program Manager, and dedicated staff for facilitating this event.

The commitment of mentees and mentors at our institution to advancing discovery and science as well as translating this directly to improvement in patient care was very much in evidence at yesterday’s symposium – as it is daily in our basic science labs, in our clinics, and in our operating rooms.

As a complementary accompaniment to this note of thanks, I thought you might be interested in this “hot off the press” article from Health Affairs that demonstrates superior patient outcomes in academic medical centers (AMCs). This is an important article by Burke and colleagues building upon a seminal article that appeared last year in JAMA. Tellingly, in this week’s article, Burke and colleagues conclude: “the better outcomes at AMCs appear to apply to all patients, not only the sickest ones with the most complicated conditions.” Hopefully this will continue to advance the discussion in our academic and broader healthcare communities about the unique, vital, and complementary role that academic health centers – like ours – play in U.S. healthcare.

Thank you for your leadership and contributions to our discovery, to our training of our talented scientists and clinicians, and to the remarkable quality of care given every day to people who seek treatment with us.

With every good wish,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

June 6, 2018

Anita Navarro Ed.D., appointed inaugural chief of staff for VCU School of Medicine

Dear Friends-Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Anita M. Navarro, Ed.D., as the medical school’s inaugural chief of staff.

Anita M. Navarro, Ed.D.

Anita M. Navarro, Ed.D.

This is a return to VCU for Dr. Navarro who spent nearly 20 years at the university, including 11 in the medical school. For the past eight years, she has served in a variety of leadership roles at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the premiere academic national organization that represents medical schools and teaching hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.

Most recently, as a senior staff member in Academic Affairs, she has been responsible for a wide range of executive, administrative and programmatic duties in support of the AAMC’s chief academic officer and Academic Affairs. Her portfolio includes strategic planning and implementation, developing and implementing policy, and managing federal and constituent relationships. She was also called on to lead the AAMC’s involvement in the White House’s Joining Forces initiative during the Obama administration, as well as a crisis team in the wake of hurricanes that affected medical schools in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

As our medical school’s inaugural chief of staff, Dr. Navarro will have a broad portfolio of responsibilities including operations oversight for the SOM Dean’s Office, strategic planning, key project implementation, community outreach, and both internal and external communications. We look forward to her collaborative approaches to enhance our communications across departments and units within the medical school, also working in tandem with our health system and university communications teams to expand more broadly our School of Medicine media and communications outreach to our community. She also will support the planning, policy formation and strategic implementation of programs envisioned by our senior leadership team.

Dr. Navarro’s varied experiences in working with White House staff, the Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Academic Affiliations and other high level organizational executives will be of tremendous benefit to our medical school. She has a deep understanding of the service mission of an institution of public higher education, and especially of an academic medical center. To that end, we also look forward to Dr. Navarro strengthening our academic partnerships, including with other universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with our already robust relationships with the McGuire VA and with the AAMC.

We are particularly fortunate that Dr. Navarro will bring with her a proven record of commitment to VCU and to our medical school. Many here may remember Dr. Navarro’s prior service in our medical school as curriculum director and in creating career development programs for the medical students, and she is an alumna of our university.

Our thanks go to Brian Aboff, M.D., senior associate dean for graduate medical education, as well as members of the search committee for their leadership and service in identifying such an exceptional addition to our team.


Please welcome back Dr. Navarro when she joins us on August 20.

Warm Regards,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

May 31, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

One of the things that makes our medical school special is how our alumni engage with their alma mater long past graduation. We have three outstanding recent examples of that, and I thought you’d like to know more about them:

  • Cardiac surgeon Jennifer Lawton, H’99, returned as the 2018 Brooks-Lower Visiting Professor and guest judge for the Department of Surgery’s research day. Department of Surgery Chair Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D., says the department was looking to bring in someone with significant interest in research and a practicing surgeon. They found both in Lawton. “She is a great researcher and a great surgeon, and very well known in the profession.”
  • Alumni volunteer John McGurl from the Class of 1993 has earned our thanks. He opened his home to host the school’s inaugural Medical Student-Alumni Supper Club this spring. The events allow small groups of students to have a meal and conversation with Richmond-area alumni as a venue for sharing ideas, seeking career advice and building relationships. For alumni, it’s a novel way to stay involved with their alma mater. In fact, “It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Dr. McGurl told us, “I would have had another one the next day.”
  • After residency, Eric Freeman, M’02, returned to Richmond to fulfill his life-long aspiration to practice in his hometown. Now he’s returned to campus as the speaker at the medical school’s Second Look program that gives applicants who are members of underrepresented minorities a chance to explore the school’s programs in more depth. Each year, a weekend of activities is organized by the School of Medicine’s Office of Student Outreach, along with VCU’s chapters of the Student National Medical Association and Latino Medical Student Association. The Admissions Office’s Donna Jackson, Ed D., says Dr. Freeman serves as a role model of a commitment to community service. “As a student, he always expressed a desire to serve in communities of need in Richmond and continued that when he returned to Richmond after residency. Our current students can be inspired by Dr. Freeman’s journey to set goals that continually include service to others. Whether at home or in a new city or state, we want our students to give back.”

You’ll find more stories of alumni contributions in the spring issue of 12th and Marshall magazine that’s hot off the presses. Also in this issue we’ve spotlighted the highly accomplished colleagues who lead our 26 departments. We want our readers to get to know these leaders, and we’ve begun with Tony Kuzel, M.D., and John Povlishock.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories.

Warm Regards,
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

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