Category Archives: Medicine

Military Women’s Health Symposium is August 23

Health care providers across eastern North Carolina will convene in Greenville for the new Military Women’s Health Symposium on August 23. Registration is now open for the event, which is meant to support the well-being of women in the military and women veterans by updating the providers who care for them.

Women comprise about 15 percent of the U.S. armed forces. In 2016, there were more than 2 million female veterans across the nation from all branches of military service, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

As more women join the military in ever-expanding roles, it’s important for providers to understand the health risks associated with service for women, according to event organizer Karen Goble, assistant director of continuing medical, dental and pharmacy education at Eastern AHEC.

“We want to recognize the role of women who serve and honor their sacrifice,” Goble said.

At the event, physicians and other advanced practitioners from the community, military bases and veterans’ administration will discuss the latest screening methods and treatments for issues common to women in the military and women veterans. These include orthopedic problems, pelvic pain and infections, depression, headaches and more.

“Women in the military are strong and resilient, but they face certain stressors that providers need to understand for optimal care,” Goble said.

For example, women in the military carrying heavy packs can experience stress fractures that result in chronic pelvic pain. “Women are capable of carrying the same equipment as men, but conditioning can be important in prevention,” Goble said.

The event is hosted by East Carolina University, Greenville VA Health Care Center, Eastern Area Health Education Center and Duke Area Health Education Center.

The conference will be held at The Education Center at Eastern AHEC, located at 2600 W. Arlington Blvd., at the corner of Arlington and W. 5th St. Space is limited so advance registration is required. Registration fees and other details are available online at easternahec.net. Those interested in attending this conference can call 252-744-5208 for more information.

 

-by Jackie Drake, Eastern AHEC

Brody School of Medicine names associate dean for research and graduate studies

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named one of its first PhD graduates as its new associate dean for research and graduate studies at the Brody School of Medicine.

The appointment of Dr. Russ Price was made following a rigorous national search. Price, who also will serve as professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, will begin his role on Aug. 16.

Dr. Russ Price. (contributed photo)

Dr. Russ Price. (contributed photo)

As associate dean for research and graduate studies, Price will provide leadership for Brody’s extensive research enterprise. He joins ECU at a time when the university is looking to strengthen its research efforts. Chancellor Cecil Staton has stated that increasing extramural research funding is one of his priority goals for the institution.

Since 2012 Price has served as associate vice chair for research in the department of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He has been professor of medicine and physiology at Emory since 1991.

“I am really delighted to welcome Russ Price back to the Brody community,” said Dr. Nicholas Benson, the school of medicine’s interim dean. “He has had a very successful career as a scientist with continuing extramural funding and as an administrator for research programs at Emory University. He will bring a new level of expertise in bench research to us that will greatly enrich the science our faculty do here at Brody and across ECU.”

Price said that he is thrilled to be selected for the position, which represents a homecoming for him.

“During the interview process, I was drawn back to ECU by the palpable renewed commitment to research and the desire of the faculty and leadership to build on the current strong foundation at BSOM,” he said. “I am excited about the partnership between BSOM and Vidant Health and the combined efforts to provide communities throughout eastern North Carolina with access to the most up-to-date clinical trials and health care.”

Having authored more than 100 publications and book chapters, Price is a recognized leader in his field. His research is directed towards explaining the mechanisms that cause muscle atrophy in chronic conditions such as end-stage kidney disease and diabetes. He serves on editorial boards for the Journal of Biological Chemistry and American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology. He has previously served on the editorial boards of Kidney International and the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In addition, Price is on the Executive Council for the International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism.

Price will lead Brody School of Medicine's extensive research enterprise. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Price will lead Brody School of Medicine’s extensive research enterprise. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Before earning his PhD in biochemistry at ECU, Price completed a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Benson thanked Dr. Jeff Smith for his service as interim associate dean for research and graduate studies since March 2016. Smith is professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology at Brody.

Price’s appointment follows Tuesday’s announcement that the Brody School of Medicine has named Dr. Mark Stacy as its new dean. Stacy begins his role on Sept. 1.

 

 

-by Angela Todd, University Communication

 

 

 

ECU physician appointed to state environmental commission

An East Carolina University physician was recently appointed to the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission.

Gov. Roy Cooper named Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, associate professor of pediatrics and public health at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, to the only seat designated for a licensed medical doctor on the 15-member commission.

The commission is responsible for overseeing and adopting rules for the protection, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air and water resources. The group’s regulations are administered by several divisions within the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that are aimed at protecting environmental quality and public health. The DEQ also offers technical assistance to businesses, farmers, local governments and the public and encourages responsible behavior with respect to the environment through education programs.

Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, associate professor of pediatrics and public health at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. (Contributed photo)

Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, associate professor of pediatrics and public health at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. (Contributed photo)

“My goal in serving in this role is to help assure that health needs and public health priorities are considered and prioritized as the commission addresses issues in our state,” Lazorick said. “My experience at ECU will be very important regarding applying principles of community engagement and also incorporating the needs of the rural areas of the state. Since most of North Carolina is rural, it is critical that the EMC recognizes the needs of the many communities that are in rural areas.”

Lazorick’s clinical work takes place at the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center, a tertiary care clinic for obese children. She works with several statewide efforts for obesity prevention and has served on multiple committees for the N.C. Division of Public Health.

She has partnered with a former teacher from rural eastern North Carolina to study a middle school-based obesity intervention and since 2008 has been funded by several foundations and the N.C. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) to study the effectiveness of the intervention, which will be implemented in 51 schools in the fall of 2017.

After earning an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Lazorick completed her medical degree and a master’s in public health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she remained for residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics. She practiced primary care for several years at a rural health center before returning to UNC for fellowship training in primary care research and preventive medicine.

Lazorick will serve a four-year term on the commission.

 

 

-by Amy Ellis, University Communication 

 

 

ECU professor of medicine named administrator for federal agency HRSA

A professor of medicine in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has been appointed by President Donald Trump as the new administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

On May 1, Dr. George Sigounas assumed oversight of HRSA, the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, or economically or medically vulnerable. HRSA’s $10.5 billion annual budget expands access to quality health care through an array of grants to state and local governments, health care providers and health professions training programs.

Dr. George Sigounas (Contributed photo)

Dr. George Sigounas (Contributed photo)

Sigounas has served for 23 years as a professor of medicine at Brody, where he helped establish the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program. His work with this program gave him extensive experience in designing and conducting clinical trials, preparing patient treatment protocols and performing fiscal management. He also directed the Cellular Therapies Clinical Unit which provided the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program with the cells used to transplant cancer patients.

“One of my primary reasons for coming to the Brody School of Medicine was to have the opportunity to participate in developing and operating a cellular therapies program that would provide service to the patients of eastern North Carolina,” Sigounas said. “The purpose of the program was for patients to remain close to home and not have to travel more than 100 miles to receive necessary treatment.

“Through the bone marrow program and by serving as faculty at a school focused on primary care for 23 years,” Sigounas added, “I developed a unique perspective on treating the undeserved and rural medicine as a whole, as well as on the providers who make this their professional objective… it was an eye-opening experience regarding the commitment and sacrifice which must be made to improve health care for those who need it most.”

In her recent announcement about Sigounas’ appointment, Diana Espinosa, deputy administrator for HRSA, said, “His involvement in the establishment and operation of a bone marrow transplantation program, clinical trials, and patient committees have provided Dr. Sigounas with extensive understanding of the various aspects involved in patient treatment, including treatment processes, and financial issues.”

From 1987 to 1994, Sigounas was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health and the Naval Medical Center. Through the years, his research efforts have resulted in several U.S. and international patents.

Sigounas earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Patras in Greece, a master’s in physiology and biology from Northeastern University, and a Ph.D. in cell biology and physiology from Boston University.

Sigounas is on an approved leave of absence from Brody and expected to return in January 2020.

 

 

-by Amy Ellis, University Communication

Gift honors medical providers who put patient first

While supporting her younger sister through a number of severe illnesses over four decades, Dr. Laura Gantt witnessed both the best and the worst in health care.

Her experiences taught her that one thing distinguishes exceptional care: compassion – or as Gantt puts it, “truly caring about patients and their families.”

Gantt’s sister, Madeline, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 14 and developed a series of chronic illnesses as an adult. When her health declined severely in 2010, Madeline moved to Greenville to live with Gantt, associate dean for nursing support services in the College of Nursing at East Carolina University.

Laura Gantt, left, with her sister, Madeline. (contributed photo)

Laura Gantt, left, with her sister, Madeline. (contributed photo)

It was then that Dr. Michael Lang, a clinical associate professor in ECU’s Brody School of Medicine who is board-certified in both psychiatry and internal medicine, took over Madeline’s care and the Gantt family found a level of support they hadn’t known previously.

“He was both her primary care physician and her psychiatrist,” Gantt explained. “I would have been in a much more horrible place without him because he helped me manage things really well.”

Lang oversaw Madeline’s care until she passed away from cancer at age 57 in June 2016.

Shortly after her sister’s passing, Gantt honored the compassion she and her family had experienced by making a planned gift to establish the Madeline S. Gantt Endowed Professorship in Psychiatry. She also created the Madeline Gantt Endowment to support continuing education for the ECU Internal Medicine-Psychiatry Residency Program, which Lang directs.

“This gift is going to provide ongoing education on arguably the most important aspect of care,” said Lang, “which is how the patient and the patient’s family improve with what we’re doing and making sure they partner in the patient’s recovery.”

The endowment also supports the new Department of Internal Medicine Compassion in Medicine Awards Luncheon. The goal of the event is to help new physicians learn to keep the needs of patients and families at the center of their practice. Together the gifts will total more than $430,000.

“Compassion in care and providing patients with a compassionate medical home is a top priority for us at ECU,” said Dr. Paul Bolin, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. “This gift enables us to emphasize that and keep it central in our training of young physicians.”

From left, Dr. Johnathan Polak, Dr. Laura Gantt, Dr. Michael Lang and Dr. Jim Peden at the first Compassion in Medicine Awards Luncheon. (contributed photo)

From left, Dr. Johnathan Polak, Dr. Laura Gantt, Dr. Michael Lang and Dr. Jim Peden at the first Compassion in Medicine Awards Luncheon. (contributed photo)

Addressing about 100 physicians at the inaugural Compassion in Medicine event on April 28, internist/psychiatrist Dr. Jim Peden, Brody’s associate dean for admissions, spoke about his experiences as a two-time cancer survivor. In 2001, Peden was diagnosed with a myxoid liposarcoma – a rare kind of cancer that grows in connective tissue, most often in the limbs – in his right lower leg. He underwent multiple surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy before experiencing a recurrence that led to an above-the-knee amputation in 2004.

In his address, Peden discussed the anxiety he experienced during periods of uncertainty, how sharing his situation openly with friends and colleagues resulted in added support, and how he used humor to cope with treatment and a new disability. He also recounted the different ways his doctors relayed troubling information.

“Having bad news broken to me a lot informed the way I break bad news,” he said, describing examples of both upsetting and reassuring approaches he experienced.

Also at the event, Johnathan Polak, a second-year internal medicine resident, received the first Madeline S. Gantt Endowed Resident Physician Award. Gantt relayed how Polak, who assisted with Madeline’s care, insisted on giving her sister the best care possible at the end of her life.

The award recognizes a resident who provides exemplary care to patients and provides funds for the recipient to attend a professional development opportunity of their choosing.

“It’s easy to fall into the training impulse ‘if this, then that,’” Polak said. “There’s so much more to medicine, really to being human, if we could all just take a moment and think about the other perspectives, the world would be a better place.”

To learn more about how gifts to the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation can express appreciation for excellent medical care, contact Kathy Brown, senior advancement officer, at brownka@ecu.edu.

 

 

-by Elizabeth Willy, University Communication

 

 

Honor society inducts new members

The East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) recently inducted seven new members.

Third-year medical students Amanda Carringer, Drew Crenshaw, Jinal Desai, Drew Gardner, Talia Horwitz, Wooten Jones, and Jaleeka Rudd were chosen by their peers for membership and honored at a dinner and induction ceremony at Ironwood Golf and Country Club on May 1.

Recent inductees into the Brody School of Medicine chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society are, front row from left, Wooten Jones, Drew Crenshaw and Drew Gardner; back row from left, Jaleeka Rudd, Talia Horwitz, Jinal Desai and Amanda Carringer. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

Recent inductees into the Brody School of Medicine chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society are, front row from left, Wooten Jones, Drew Crenshaw and Drew Gardner; back row from left, Jaleeka Rudd, Talia Horwitz, Jinal Desai and Amanda Carringer. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

“The Gold Humanism Honor Society recognizes students, residents and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and who serve as role models, mentors and leaders in medicine,” said Dr. Hellen Ransom, assistant professor of bioethics at Brody and GHHS faculty advisor. “GHHS members are the individuals whose peers would want them taking care of their own families.”

Drs. Manuel Izquierdo, left, and Hannah Fuhr, 2017 recipients of the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award. Not pictured is Dr. Stephanie Simmons.

Drs. Manuel Izquierdo, left, and Hannah Fuhr, 2017 recipients of the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award. Not pictured is Dr. Stephanie Simmons.

Also recognized at the event were the 2017 recipients of the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Internal medicine resident Dr. Hannah Fuhr, internal medicine-pediatrics resident Dr. Manuel Izquierdo and obstetrics-gynecology resident Dr. Stephanie Simmons were selected by the third-year medical class for exemplifying humanism in their teaching and patient interactions.

Established in 2002 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) is an international association of individuals and medical school chapters whose members are selected as exemplars of empathy, compassion, altruism, integrity, service, excellence and respect in their relationships with patients and others in the field of medicine.

The Brody chapter of the organization was founded in 2011. Membership is by peer selection in the third year of medical school. During their fourth year, members are responsible for executing a project that exemplifies humanism, sponsoring a fundraising event and participating in National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Patient Care.

 

 

-by Amy Ellis, University Communication 

 

College of Allied Health Sciences hosts first college-wide Research Day

The College of Allied Health Sciences recently held its first college-wide Research Day. The event, meant to foster inter-departmental collaboration, featured oral presentations and poster sessions from undergraduates, master’s students, Doctor of Physical Therapy students and Ph.D. candidates from the nine programs within the college.

Awards for posters and presentations were voted on by the CAHS research committee. Three People’s Choice award winners were chosen as well.

“Our first Research Day was an overwhelming success,” said Dr. Robert Orlikoff, dean of the college. “It showcased the fact that students in the College of Allied Health Sciences are not only developing the knowledge and skills to become effective evidence-based practitioners and health care workers, but are also acquiring strong skills in both basic and clinical research. I congratulate the students as well as our accomplished faculty research mentors.”

The ECU College of Allied Health Sciences recently held its first college-wide Research Day. Students from the college’s nine departments gave poster and oral presentations during morning and afternoon sessions. (Photos by Alyssa De Santis Figiel)

The ECU College of Allied Health Sciences recently held its first college-wide Research Day. Students from the college’s nine departments gave poster and oral presentations during morning and afternoon sessions. (Photos by Alyssa De Santis Figiel)

The event, held on the university’s Reading Day on April 26, was organized by Dr. Richard Willy, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Heather Harris Wright, professor and associate dean for research, who organized the presentations based on their subjects and theme, rather than by department.

“Every department in our college has typically done their own research day,” Willy said. “They’ve always kind of occurred in somewhat of a vacuum. So now that we’re pushing interprofessional communication, it made sense to hold them all on the same day.

“We might have someone from physical therapy standing next to someone from occupational therapy standing next to someone from clinical lab science,” Willy continued. “By seeing what our students are working on, essentially, by proxy we’re seeing what our faculty are working on. So we’re hopeful that maybe in the next couple years this Research Day might encourage more collaboration across the college.”

Students from the Department of Physical Therapy discuss their work during Research Day on April 26.

Students from the Department of Physical Therapy discuss their work during Research Day on April 26.

Peter Eischens, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Addictions & Rehabilitation Studies, won the best oral presentation award with his presentation “Developing queer competency in rehabilitation addictions, and clinical counseling graduate programs.”

Other winners chosen by the committee include Patrick Briley and Kori Engler from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, as well as Morgan Haskins, the team of Jeffrey Harrington and Kate Foy, and Eric Kosco from the Department of Physical Therapy.

People’s Choice award winners were Eshan Pua of CSDI and Cynthia Edsall and Alyssa Kerls from the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science. Winners each received a $100 Amazon gift card.

The college plans to make its Research Day an annual event.

 

 

-by Natalie Sayewich, University Communication

Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber adds “distinguished professor” to his many titles

Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber ’14 stays busy.

He is a physician at East Carolina University’s Family Medicine Center, an associate professor of family medicine at the Brody School of Medicine, director of the family medicine residency program and vice chair of academic affairs – plus he is working on his MBA.

(Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber (left) shares a laugh with Max Ray Joyner, Sr. Firnhaber is now the Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professor in Primary Care Medicine.) (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber (left) shares a laugh with Max Ray Joyner, Sr. Firnhaber is now the Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professor in Primary Care Medicine. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Now he is the recipient of the Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professorship in Primary Care Medicine.

“It’s personally an enormous honor. I think it’s a huge plus for our department as well,” Firnhaber said.

Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber.

Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber.

As the Joyner Distinguished Professor, Firnhaber serves as a role model for ECU faculty members and students. He will assist with activities to enrich teaching, develop opportunities in research and creative activity, provide patient care and boost the reputation of the school and university as a center for primary care medicine.

“Top of the list, we’re working to establish a fellowship in academic medicine, associated with our residency program,” he said. “(We) have all sorts of ideas in mind to improve the research standing of both our department and our residency program, which trickles down to improving the research focus of our students. If our students are seeing their mentors and their teachers participating in research and are working to improve their educational base, that translates to excitement on their part as well.”

Dr. Chelley Alexander, Robert T. Monk Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, said the professorship “is an enormous honor for Dr. Firnhaber, it reflects well on the department and also supplies funding and opportunities for our department to work with all the primary care disciplines at Brody School of Medicine in joint initiatives centered around research and academic medicine.”

After getting his undergraduate and medical degree from the University of Colorado, Firnhaber spent seven years in the Air Force as a resident and staff physician. Then he spent the next several years in private practice in Shelby, Washington and Chocowinity before coming to ECU in 2006.

ECU and medicine are a family affair. Dr. Firnhaber poses with his daughter, Jessica, who is a student in ECU’s School of Dental Medicine.

ECU and medicine are a family affair. Dr. Firnhaber poses with his daughter, Jessica, who is a student in ECU’s School of Dental Medicine.

Max Ray Joyner, Sr. ’54 described Firnhaber as a “very outstanding fellow” and said he was pleased the school selected him for the professorship.

The Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professorship in Primary Care Medicine is made possible in part by the Joyner family. Their leadership gift has helped fund this professorship since 1992. Joyner has donated many gifts to the university since he graduated, helping with various scholarships and programs. He said the reason he got involved with this professorship is simple.

“I was asked… and I thought it was a good idea,” said Joyner.

“Folks like Mr. Joyner are the absolute unsung heroes of eastern North Carolina,” Firnhaber said. “To me, this professorship is not just an opportunity for me and for our department, but I think it really illustrates what individuals like him have done for health care in our state.”

Firnhaber and the Joyners were honored at a reception at the Family Medicine Center on May 11.

The Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professorship in Primary Care Medicine is a five-year term and is renewable for a second five-year term. It includes an annual stipend that can be used for various needs such as salary supplement, travel and research expenses, stipends for teaching, research assistants, and special equipment.

Max Joyner poses with his family.

Max Joyner poses with his family.

If you would like make a charitable gift to or would like more information for the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, email Mark Notestine, President, ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, notestinem14@ecu.edu.

 

-by Rich Klindworth

Brody student organization receives regional chapter award

East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine group that supports minority medical students and underserved communities has received a regional award.

The Brody Student National Medical Association chapter was recognized for the extensive community service its members performed this past year, outshining peer groups from North Carolina to Florida and the Caribbean.

“What I love about the Student National Medical Association is that the mission really aligns with the mission of the Brody School of Medicine,” explained chapter president Ebone Evans, a rising third-year medical student from Durham. “SNMA encourages physicians to go to these populations that are traditionally underserved and encourages support and mentorship for medical students who might not have had support in their lives around them.”

From left, Brody SNMA president Ebone Evans with members Jackie Watson and Consola Esambe Lobwede during Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. (contributed photo)

From left, Brody SNMA president Ebone Evans with members Jackie Watson and Consola Esambe Lobwede during Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. (contributed photo)

Many of the group’s community initiatives this past academic year involved members serving as role models for area youth.

For Project ALPHA, members provided weekly health education training to young men at Dobbs Community Juvenile Detention Center in Kinston. Weekly workshops at Building Hope Community Life Center in Greenville helped young ladies transition to womanhood. Programming included a seminar on making healthy snacks and another from ECU dental medicine students on proper dental hygiene.

Other community service efforts included a reading buddies program at the Little Willie Center in Greenville and a pre-medical conference to encourage undergraduate minority students interested in pursuing medicine. Members also took an active role in Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in the fall.

“Just as much as the people in these programs get from us, we get so much from them,” Evans said. “We get so much understanding of life — a better understanding of the community — and that’s how you really are able to affect the population that you’re serving, if you understand who they are.”

Any medical student can join the chapter, Evans said, but minority students typically comprise membership. The group’s leaders are working to continue increasing community service and encourage diversity among members.

“We want people to know this isn’t an organization just for minority students,” she said. “It’s an organization that would like to train the majority population to know how to support minority populations as they go through their medical training.”

Dr. Cassandra Bradby, the group’s adviser and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, applauded Brody’s SNMA members for their efforts to help promote and exemplify diversity in medicine.

“Given all of the rigors of medical school, it is very hard to be able to balance all of these service projects and programs, as well as excel in school and our students have managed to do both,” she said. “I am so proud and excited that they have earned this award. No chapter deserves it more.”

 

 

by Elizabeth Willy, University Communication

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