April 3, 2014
Bidding farewell to another exceptional class of students

By H.W. “Ted” Matthews 

It’s that time again. Time to bid farewell to another group of extraordinary students who successfully completed our curricula and emerged uniquely prepared to serve. On May 10, more than 100 Mercer pharmacy students will earn their Doctor of Pharmacy or Doctor of Philosophy degrees during our commencement ceremony. It will be a wonderful culmination of years of sacrifices and prayers, trials and triumphs for our graduates and their families.

Each commencement exercise is different. Each one takes on the unique characteristics of the graduates, their families and their collective journeys that led them to the defining moment of graduation. And the terminal degree – the doctorate – affords the recipient a title of both respect and responsibility. 

There are a number of characteristics that distinguish the graduating Class of 2014. Among them, more than 20 have been matched for residency, fellowship and graduate school placements. As described by the Office of Student Affairs and Admissions, I’d like to share the abbreviated accomplishments and future endeavors of four of our graduates as an example of what’s great about our students and their commitment to leadership and service. These students personify what it means to be a graduate of Mercer College of Pharmacy. 

Lindsey Carter is a candidate in the Doctor of Pharmacy/Master of Business Administration joint degree program at Mercer. While matriculating through both pharmacy and business programs, Lindsey has participated in study abroad experiences in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Paris, France; and Milan, Italy, and is currently completing a hospital rotation in Pamplona, Spain. Some of her past research experiences were conducted at the Sackler Institute of the New York University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Lindsey’s leadership experiences include serving as the Mercer University Student Liaison for the American College of Clinical Pharmacy; Chaplain of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association- Mercer University Chapter; and Interfraternal Council Representative of the Alpha Delta Chapter of Kappa Epsilon professional pharmacy fraternity. She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the 2013 Georgia Society of Health-System Pharmacists Outstanding Pharmacy Intern/Extern Award; the Tom and Elizabeth Perkins Scholarship; and the Walgreens Diversity Scholarship. 

Joanne Nguyen was initially drawn to the field of pharmacy as a result of her passion for helping others and her desire for learning chemistry. Her parents, who are Vietnamese immigrants, serve as her major source of motivation and inspiration. Joanne’s success as a student and leader is reflected in her many academic achievements and organizational involvements. She is currently a member of the Rho Chi and Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Societies. She also held numerous leadership roles within the College of Pharmacy, including vice president of the Georgia Society of Health-System Pharmacists. After graduation, Joanne was matched and will enter an Ambulatory Care Focus PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at Auburn University. Her ultimate career goal is to provide excellent care as a clinical specialist and educate future students as an academic professor. 

Jared Safran graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a B.A. in Economics. He then went on to pursue a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree from Midwestern University located outside of Chicago. While attending pharmacy school at Mercer, he spent a lot of time in the community volunteering at Summer’s Landing Tilly Mill in Dunwoody, Ga., and the Atlanta chapter of Habitat for Humanity, among others. He served as president of Mercer’s Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy student chapter; and student representative for the Assessment Committee for the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education at Mercer. 

Blake Shay has held several pharmacy leadership positions during his time at Mercer University, including Council of Students president-elect and president; Phi Lambda Sigma treasurer; APhA-ASP Pharmflix co-chair; and Honor Council representative. In addition to those elected leadership positions, he has also held several appointed leadership positions including President’s Advisory Council representative, ACPE Curriculum Committee member and Curriculum Sub-committee member. Since his first year in pharmacy school, Blake has worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta part-time. After graduation, Blake has been matched and will pursue a two-year health-system pharmacy administration residency and a master’s degree in pharmacy administration at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. 

Congratulations to the Class of 2014. 

Regards,

H.W. “Ted” Matthews

Dean

H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Pharmacy and senior vice president for health sciences, serving as head of the Mercer Health Sciences Center. His blog appears each month on the College’s tumblr page at http://MercerCOP.tumblr.com.

 

February 4, 2014
Pharmacy Rankings: Good, Bad, and Ugly

By H.W. “Ted” Matthews
In the last two decades or so, undergraduate and professional schools have been competing for the best and brightest students amid what higher education experts have called “an admissions arms race.” And many experts suggest that this competitive “arms” struggle for students has been fueled in part by the emergence of college and professional school rankings such as those produced by U.S. News & World Report magazine.
The presence of these rankings has caused various reactions from college presidents and deans across the country. Though most agree that rankings suffer from less-than-ideal methodologies and therefore project only part of the story, many leaders have come to realize that prospective students are nonetheless using them to help make admissions decisions. And this realization has caused a firestorm of reactions and questionable decisions.
Until recently, however, I did not fully appreciate how this was affecting pharmacy schools, including our College of Pharmacy. We have always recruited outstanding students, thanks in part to our extremely capable and committed admissions staff. But we have also been ranked among the Top 3 private pharmacy schools in the country byU.S. News. Then, two years ago, our national ranking slipped to No. 4 among private pharmacy schools, and prospective students began asking us questions about the slight drop. Our response, “We will always be committed to providing our students with the best education possible in a setting where every student matters and every person counts.”
 
I broach this subject in the aftermath of a new ranking by GraduatePrograms.com that ranked Mercer College of Pharmacy the No. 11 pharmacy program in the country based on responses by current pharmacy students and graduates from September 2012 to September 2013. Though I obviously cannot verify the credibility or reliability of the ranking, (you can read more about it by clicking here), it forced me to consider how – or whether – our College should even share this information with our alumni and friends. And that ultimately led me to share it in this way through my blog. In so doing, I both humbly acknowledge it, yet concede that rankings are just a small part of the story.
 
So, as I see it, the takeaway is this: 1) Rankings are here to stay and, despite our discomfort with them, prospective students use them to help make admissions decisions; 2) Rankings cannot and do not fully address the quality of an institution or program; and 3) Despite their imperfections, it is better, quite frankly, to be on the good side of a ranking than the bad side. And to this third point, I am profoundly grateful. 
Regards,
H.W. “Ted” Matthews
Dean     
   
H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Pharmacy and senior vice president of Health Sciences, serving as head of the Mercer Health Sciences Center. His blog appears each month on the College’s tumblr page at http://MercerCOP.tumblr.com.
  

January 6, 2014
A New Year and New Possibilities

By H.W. “Ted” Matthews

As 2013 comes to a close, I think about all the possibilities that a new year brings. The

possibility of opening a new business or learning a new hobby; the possibility of getting in

better shape or traveling to new places; the possibility of establishing better family and work

relationships or finding the strength to end an unrelenting bad habit. Whatever it may be, a

new year provides the possibility for us to redefine who we are and who we ultimately wish to

become.

For Mercer’s College of Pharmacy, that same possibility holds true. The new year is an

opportunity for us to get better and do better in ways large and small. Whether it’s spending

that one extra moment after class with a student or building new and exciting collaborations

with our colleagues, the new year provides us the possibility of recommitting ourselves to our

mission in ways unique to each of us.

The challenge, however, is capturing the possibilities that each new year brings. It’s usually

easier identifying ways to improve but harder to actually do it, especially over a consistent

period of time. Yet, on the cusp of each new year, we are faced with the possibility of change

and are challenged to try even if we fail.

So I wish each of you a Happy New Year, and I hope you capture at least one of the enormous

possibilities that 2014 brings. For my part, as dean of the College of Pharmacy, I am committed

to reaching for those possibilities in 2014 that will continue to make our College great. And if I

fall short of some, I will find peace in trying.

Regards,

H.W. “Ted” Matthews

Dean

December 11, 2013
Interprofessional Education Intensifies As Consensus Grows About Team-based Research and Patient Care

By H.W. “Ted” Matthews

Last April, Time magazine published a cover story titled “How to Cure Cancer.” The title was not a question but a “how-to” statement seemingly leading readers to a guide for curing the deadly disease,  despite the fact that no cure actually exists. At the end of the title was an asterisk leading to this note: “Yes, it’s now possible – thanks to new cancer dream teams that are delivering better results faster.”

The article featured a new approach to cancer research. A “team-based, cross-disciplinary” approach that involved scientists from different disciplines working together to explore new ways in “the conspiracy to end cancer.” The teams consisted of oncologists, pharmacologists, nurses, pathologists, surgeons, geneticists, biostatisticians, and other health “technicians,” to name a few. And the results, the article revealed, have been more than impressive.

The scientific and health care communities are forming a consensus about the value of team-based research and patient care. And this comes at a time when Mercer health sciences students are gradually being trained together to better understand each disciplines unique strengths in order to optimize care. In September, for example, 149 third-year pharmacy students, 35 fourth-year physical therapy students, and 48 second-year physician assistant students completed an interprofessional education (IPE) case activity. Students worked in multidisciplinary groups of 8-10 members. The case activity followed a patient from his visit to the physician assistant, the pharmacist, and then the physical therapist. Students were asked to answer questions as a group and evaluate the ethical dilemma that developed as the case progressed. This month, students were involved in a second IPE activity that included students from pharmacy practice, nursing, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, and public health. Next semester, a third IPE will add students from medicine. And each semester, we will gradually increase the number of IPE experiences. We are also developing ways to intensify collaborative efforts among Mercer researchers in the health sciences.

By training all of our health sciences students to work together in teams, we better prepare our pharmacy students for 21st century health care, which we believe in general gives the College of Pharmacy a competitive advantage in recruiting students. A similar advantage exists on the research side, as grants are increasingly being awarded to multidisciplinary teams of scientists. In fact, Mercer pharmaceutical scientist Chalet Tan, Ph.D., is a member of a multidisciplinary team recently awarded a multimillion-dollar R01 cancer research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

So I encourage all of our alumni and friends to stay engaged in what we’re doing at Mercer and why. We believe we’re among a relatively small number of academic institutions redefining how health care providers are being educated in teams without the silos that have previously divided them. And each of you can help spread the word about this distinguishing aspect of Mercer pharmacists, in particular, and Mercer health sciences students, in general.

I wish each of you Happy Holidays!

H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Pharmacy and senior vice president of Health Sciences, serving as CEO of the Mercer Health Sciences Center. His blog appears each month on the College’s tumblr page at http://MercerCOP.tumblr.com.

October 25, 2013
The fuel that keeps me going

By H.W. “Ted” Matthews

After more than 23 years of serving as dean of the Mercer University College of Pharmacy, alumni and friends often ask me how I continue to stay energetic, optimistic and innovative. It’s a fair question because longevity in one position can often become static and stale amid an ever-changing profession and world. However, in order to remain competitive in pharmacy education and practice, we must always be looking for and embracing continuous quality improvement, a mantra I often repeat to my faculty and staff perhaps more than they wish to admit.

But before recently being asked this question, I never really thought about how I’m able to stay energetic and innovative as dean. When I thought about it, however, the answer became clear – I’m able to remain energetic because we recruit outstanding faculty and students who make my job immensely rewarding.

As an indication of this, I want to share with you just some of the accomplishments of our faculty and students last year alone.

2012-13 COP Accomplishments

  • The College of Pharmacy was ranked the fourth best private pharmacy school in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report.

 

  • Pharmacy faculty averaged almost two publications per faculty member.
  • Almost 10% of all faculty are members of journal editorial review boards.

 

  • 23% of faculty members in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences now have National Institutes of Health funding.
  • Faculty submitted $4.6 million in grant proposals and were awarded $1.35 million in funded grants.

 

  • Pharmacy faculty had 14 pedagogical abstracts accepted and presented at the annual meeting of the 2013 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
  • For all required courses in the pharmacy program’s curriculum, students’ overall rating of classroom teaching effectiveness of faculty was at 4.42 based on a 5.0 Likert scale.

 

  • The College of Pharmacy conducts a Pharmacy Teaching Program (PTP) to all Atlanta area hospital-based pharmacy residents and current Ph.D. students.  The primary goal of the PTP is to develop through practice the participants’ skills required to function in an academic setting.
  • Two graduate students received the prestigious American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education Pre-doctoral Fellowship.

 

  • Third-year pharmacy student, Mr. Thomas Sherrer, was elected to serve as President-elect of the National Community Pharmacists Association & Student Leadership Council.
  • Pharmacy’s Kappa Psi student chapter was named the top ranking international college chapter of 2012.

 

  • Pharmacy students participated in 32 international clinical rotations representing every continent in the world except Antarctica.

These accomplishments and others are the fuel that keeps me going.

Yours,

Ted Matthews

H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D., is dean of the College of Pharmacy and senior vice president of Health Sciences, serving as CEO of the Mercer Health Sciences Center.  His blog appears each month on the College’s tumblr page at http://MercerCOP.tumblr.com.

July 16, 2013
Alumni, Friends Honored at College of Pharmacy Dinner at GPhA

By H. W. “Ted” Matthews

Each year, the College of Pharmacy Alumni Association honors individuals for their support of the College and the profession of pharmacy. Nominations for the awards come from alumni, and the winners are determined by the awards committee of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Two weeks ago – at the College’s alumni dinner during the Georgia Pharmacy Association annual convention – I presented the 2013 winners with their well-deserved awards. The winners included four alumni and three friends of the College who have demonstrated professional success, leadership and service to the profession of pharmacy.

Young Alumni Award
(Recognizes the accomplishments and commitment of an alumnus who graduated within the past 10 years)

Recipient:
Gabriel R. McLemore, Pharm.D., ’06.

Dr. McLemore is currently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serving within the Division of Strategic National Stockpile as a Quality Assurance Specialist. His responsibilities include maintaining high-quality standards of the national drug stockpile of various antibiotics, vaccines, antidotes, and medical devices. In addition to his work with the CDC, Dr. McLemore continues to practice pharmacy within the Emory Healthcare system on an as needed basis. Among other examples, Dr. McLemore continues to support the Mercer College of Pharmacy by hosting Japanese exchange students from Hiroshima University as part of our APPE international rotation program.

Alumni Meritorious Service Award
(Presented to an alumnus or alumni of the College of Pharmacy who has served the profession of pharmacy and the Alumni Association in an outstanding manner)

Recipients:
K. Tom Roberts, B.S.Pharm., ’81 and Liza G. Chapman, Pharm.D., ’02

Mr. Roberts is a member of the College of Pharmacy Board of Visitors and is regional director of health and wellness with Wal-Mart, where he has worked for 20 years. His numerous awards with Wal-mart are impressive: In 2009, he was named Market Manager of Year for the entire Wal-Mart company; in 2011 Regional Director of the Year for Wal-Mart’s Division A; and, in 2012, regional director of the Year for Wal-Mart’s Division T. Mr. Roberts has operational responsibilities for 95 Wal-Mart pharmacies and vision centers and clinics. One of his primary responsibilities is the selection and development of market directors, many of whom have been promoted to higher levels in the company.

Dr. Chapman is clinical coordinator for The Kroger Co. – Atlanta Division where she manages all clinical services for more than 200 pharmacies. Her practice focuses on immunization delivery, medication therapy management, and point-of-care health screenings. She is also the site coordinator for The Kroger Co.’s residency programs affiliated with College of Pharmacy and the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy. Dr. Chapman holds faculty teaching privileges for the American Pharmacist Association (APhA) Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery, Medication Therapy Management, 2013 Award Recipients and Diabetes Certificate Training programs.

Meritorious Service Award
(Recognizes an individual who has contributed in some outstanding ways to the enhancement of the College of Pharmacy)

Recipient
Emir Emamifar, Pharm.D., M.B.A.

Dr. Emamifar is associate administrator of Pharmaceutical Services with Emory Healthcare, where he oversees all pharmacy services for Emory hospitals and clinics, the Winship Cancer Institute, investigational drug services and clinical research, and the retail ambulatory pharmacy. He is also assistant dean for Clinical Education for the Mercer University College of Pharmacy-Emory University Joint Initiative in Pharmacy Education, a partnership involving our students and faculty in collaborative research, clinical service activities, and clinical-training experiences. Dr. Emamifar is also a member of our Board of Visitors.​

2013 Preceptors of the Year

Recipients

Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences
Monali Majmudar, Pharm.D., ’98

Dr. Majmudar is a pharmacist at Walgreens, providing service-learning opportunities for our students in her work as a lead immunizer.

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences
Christopher Paciullo, Pharm.D.

Dr. Paciullo is a clinical pharmacy specialist in Cardiothoracic Surgery and PGY 1 Residency Program Director at Emory University Hospital. Dr. Paciullo precepts APPE students in the Cardiac Surgery ICU at Emory as well as research rotations.

Carlton Henderson Award
(Recognizes an individual who has contributed to the reputation and enhancement of the profession of pharmacy in the state of Georgia)

Recipient
Rondell C. Jaggers, Pharm. D.

Dr. Jaggers is executive director of Pharmacy, Drug Information and Clinical Nutrition for Grady Health System. He is a past president and chairman of the board for the Georgia Society of Health-System Pharmacists (GSHP) and was the founding chair for the Student and Resident Affairs Committee. He is currently chair for the GSHP Task Force on Technician Training. He has also represented GSHP in the House of Delegates at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). A member of the College of Pharmacy Board of Visitors, our honoree has been active with the Atlanta Academy of Institutional Pharmacy (AAIP) and is a past president and board member. Dr. Jaggers is a preceptor for Mercer University, the University of Georgia, and South University.


H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D., is senior vice president for health sciences at Mercer University and dean of the College of Pharmacy. His monthly blog showcases the outstanding contributions of the College’s students, faculty, alumni and staff.

June 3, 2013
New Colleges Bring Opportunities to Grow and Thrive … Together

On July 1, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will become the College of Pharmacy, and our existing programs in Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies will be relocated in the new College of Health Professions. The change is expected to significantly strengthen the programs under both colleges. It also better aligns similar programs under the new Mercer Health Sciences Center, which was established to build better collaboration and teamwork among Mercer’s four health sciences units – Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Professions.

 

Like most new endeavors, there are both opportunities and challenges to face. The opportunities of this new endeavor abound: the new College of Pharmacy, which will include the departments of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences, re-establishes our century-long identity in pharmacy education. It has been that identity since 1903 that has led to our continued leadership in so many areas in pharmacy. This realignment allows the alumni, faculty, students and staff of the College of Pharmacy to get back to that central identity amid a changing landscape in pharmacy education, research and practice. Refocusing our efforts in this way will create a host of new and innovative opportunities that I believe will significantly energize our base.

 

The new College of Health Professions provides similar opportunities. In addition to the PT and PA programs, the College of Health Professions will also include the Public Health program, which is currently housed in the School of Medicine. National reports confirm the vital need for these professionals in a dynamic health care system in which people are living longer and more productive lives. Preventive, primary, and rehabilitative health care – the hallmark of these three outstanding programs – is strengthened by strategically aligning them under one college. Because the programs are uniquely similar in size and structure, they will be on equal footing to grow and thrive as needed. The new College of Health Professions also allows us the opportunity to create new programs as demands dictate.

 

So what are the challenges? I believe the greatest challenge is a consequence of our biggest opportunity – and that is becoming too comfortable in our own silos that we don’t fully embrace the true value of interprofessional collaboration and teamwork. And that would be most unfortunate for the people whom we value most: our patients. Today, it is clear that team-based care saves money, time and lives. So we must all be committed to eliminating the traditional silos inside and outside the academy that have divided health care professionals in the past.

 

The good news is that our new health sciences center will work to overcome this challenge, as outlined in our new video. So, on the cusp of this transition, I am eager to face the opportunities ahead, and I welcome the promise that the new College of Pharmacy and the new College of Health Professions bring.

 

Best regards,

H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Senior Vice President, Mercer Health Sciences Center

May 14, 2013

May 14, 2013
A New Student Pharmacist Looks Forward

As a member of the Doctor of Pharmacy Program Class of 2017, let me just say that I could not be more excited and hopeful about the next four years. At the Spring Orientation/Picnic, our class was welcomed to campus with open arms, warm smiles, and supportive words.

Due to rain, the morning began in the Pharmacy Classroom 172: a place we’ve been told we will be spending A LOT of time in the coming years. The entire admissions staff, the P2 class president, and student ambassadors all answered questions and shared words of wisdom with us as we began to slowly get acquainted with one another. We laughed, we cried (internally… imagining all of the 7:45 a.m. exams we’ll be taking in that room), and we took notes on such things as our admissions checklist and apartment searches. Afterwards, the Class of 2017’s first t-shirt was revealed. It stated that we are composed of the following elements: 300mg of commitment, 100mg of fun, and finally that we contain a whopping 100mg of competence. I would say those are pretty good ratios.

Next we tried on white coats to be sure that we have the correct size for the White Coat Ceremony. This must have been my favorite part of the day. Although they were not yet OUR white coats, I found it exciting to see everyone adorned with the official Mercer seal for the very first time.

A lovely lunch immediately followed in the Trustees Dining Room. There our interests were peaked by tri-folds displaying the key features of the multitude of organizations represented on our campus. With current students ready to answer any and all of our questions, we began to plan and imagine our futures as Mercer Student Pharmacists.

After all was said and done and I reflected on the amazing time I’d had, I thought: this is why I chose Mercer. I chose Mercer for the intimate feel and close relationships that come along with attending a smaller campus. I chose Mercer for its student organizations, for its professional yet fun atmosphere, and for the guarantee that after four years I will come to be an amazing and successful Doctor of Pharmacy.

May 8, 2013
Dean Matthews talks ice cream, new colleges & a new building

From an annual ice cream social with students to the formation of a new College and a new pharmacy building, Dean Matthews is leading an extraordinary change in the health sciences at Mercer while still remaining connected to students. In his monthly blog post, Dean Matthews answers questions about recent and upcoming events at the College.

Q: On April 26, you held your annual Dean’s ice cream social. When did you begin this event,and why?

A: After becoming dean and leaving the classroom full-time, I realized my personal contact with students would decrease, and I wanted to find ways of staying in contact with students. 

I actually started the Dean’s ice cream social about 15 years ago as one way to increase my interaction with students and to thank them for choosing our pharmacy school.

Q: What has been the response from students?

A: Initially, I really did not know if they would think it was silly for the dean to be serving them ice cream. But, to my surprise, they seemed to have enjoyed seeing me smile and pass out ice cream. Also, each student thanked me and said it was such a nice thing to do. Even more surprisingly, they now tell me they look forward to this ice cream social each year, and it’s one of my favorite times with students.

Q: You recently presided over your last faculty meeting of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. On July 1, the current college will be separated into the College of Pharmacy and the new College of Health Professions. As the architect of these changes, how does it feel to be on the cusp of this transformation?

A: I am very excited about the establishment of the new College of Health Professions. I feel quite honored to have been given the opportunity by President Underwood to oversee the creation of a new college. I am quite confident that the College of Health Professions will be successful because it will have a similar academic culture and standard of excellence as our existing College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS). This will happen because the Physician Assistant and Physical Therapy programs, now housed in COPHS, will join the Public Health program, now housed in the medical school, to form the new College.

Q: What does this change mean for the future of the pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences programs under the new College of Pharmacy?

A: After the new College is formed, the pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences programs will comprise the new College of Pharmacy. I don’t believe this change will have much effect on these programs. However, I do feel that a somewhat greater effort will have to be made to work collaboratively with the programs in the new College.

Q: How are things progressing with the construction of a new pharmacy building?

A: I am pleased with the progress already made toward the construction of a new pharmacy building. An architect has been selected, and we are in the final stages of being able to produce a rendering of the building. Also, we will be selecting a construction company during the month of May to build the new pharmacy facility. So things are progressing well.

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