THE NEI SCHOLARS PROGRAM

Release Date:  September 16, 1998

PA NUMBER:  PAR-98-107

P.T.

National Eye Institute

PURPOSE

The purpose of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Scholars Program is to provide
an opportunity for outstanding individuals to obtain laboratory or clinical
research training within the NEI intramural environment and to facilitate the
successful transition to continue their research career at an extramural
institution as independent vision researchers.  This is accomplished by first
providing individuals with the necessary resources to receive high quality
research training for three to four years at the NEI. This is followed by
providing extramural funding to support the research program for two years at the
extramural institution to which the NEI Scholar is recruited.  It is anticipated
that NEI Scholars will subsequently compete for independent funding to continue
their research.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This program announcement, The NEI Scholars
Program, is related to the priority area of human resource development. 
Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report:
Stock No. 017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report: Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) from the
Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402-9325 (Telephone: 202-512-1800).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Individuals must have a research or health professional doctoral level degree or
its equivalent and must have demonstrated the potential for a highly productive
research career during predoctoral training and the immediate postdoctoral
period, if applicable.  Individuals who have had more than five years of
postdoctoral research training at the time of application are not eligible to
apply; however, clinical training does not count against the five years.  Former
principal investigators on National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project
grants (R01), SBIR/STTR awards (R43, R44/R41, R42), subprojects of program
project grants (P01), center grants (P30, P50), K08, K23, K24, or the equivalent
are not eligible.  Individuals at the NEI or other NIH intramural laboratories
who meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to apply.

During the intramural phase, the NEI Scholar is expected to spend full time on
research.  During the extramural phase, the NEI Scholar must spend a minimum of
75% of a full-time professional effort conducting research and engaging in
research career development activities for the two years of the award.

Before submitting an application for the NEI Scholars Program, the candidate must
identify an individual in the NEI's Division of Intramural Research who will
serve as the sponsor and will be committed to supervise the training and research
project.  The sponsor must be an active investigator in the area of the proposed
research and have research training experience and resources needed to support
the NEI Scholar.

All applicants are encouraged to contact NEI extramural staff regarding their
eligibility for this award and NEI intramural laboratory scientist regarding
sponsorship information, prior to submitting an application (see Inquiries
Section).

Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.  Candidates must be U.S. citizens
or non-citizen nationals, or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent
residence and possess an Alien Registration Card (I-151 or I-152) or some other
verification of legal admission as a permanent U.S. resident, at the time of the
award.  Non-citizen nationals, although not U.S. citizens, are individuals who
owe permanent allegiance to the U.S.  They are usually born in lands that are not
states, but are under U.S. sovereignty, jurisdiction, or administration. 
Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible to apply.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

The NEI Scholars Program will use the NIH Career Transition Award (K22)
mechanism.  Planning, direction, and execution of the candidate's individual
proposed research project and training program will be the responsibility of the
applicant and the sponsor.

The total period of support for the NEI Scholars Program is up to six years.  The
program begins with three to four years of support for the NEI Scholar's research
training in the NEI's intramural research environment.  Salary and research costs
for this phase will be derived exclusively from NEI intramural resources, and
there is no extramural grant award associated with the intramural phase.  The
final two years of the NEI Scholar's research program will be supported by the
extramural institution to which the scholar is recruited and will be funded
through an extramural, non-competing, NIH Career Transition Award (K22)
mechanism.  During the extramural phase, the NEI Scholar is encouraged to apply
for independent research support.  The NEI Scholars award is not renewable and
not transferable among NIH intramural research laboratories.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The NEI Scholars Program will provide a research environment for the training of
outstanding vision researchers.  The program is uniquely designed to facilitate
the transition of the NEI Scholar to an independent research career in the
extramural vision research community.  The goal of the program is to provide
highly qualified young investigators with an opportunity to receive research
training experience in the NEI intramural research environment and provide them
with bridge funding to facilitate the transition of their research programs to
extramural institutions.  This is a novel opportunity for new investigators who
are exceptionally talented to receive research training and establish an
independent research program.  The NEI Scholars Program is also intended to help
enhance and invigorate the NEI intramural environment by providing a cadre of
new, creative junior scientists who will interact with and expand the
collaborative research opportunities for NEI intramural scientists.

NEI Division of Intramural Research
The NEI's Division of Intramural Research, located on the Bethesda campus,
conducts a multi-faceted vision research program using the tools of molecular
biology, genetics, immunology, biochemistry, neurophysiology, cell biology,
epidemiology, and biostatistics.  It is particularly focused on the conduct of
long-term, clinically relevant research initiatives in such areas as gene
therapy, ocular immunology, and neuro-ophthalmological disorders.  The Intramural
Laboratory and Clinical Research program of the National Eye Institute has eight
components.  A description of the NEI Intramural Research Program can be obtained
from the NEI web site:  http://www.nei.nih.gov

The NEI intramural divisions invite applications for the NEI Scholars Program in
the following scientific areas:

o  The Laboratory of Immunology conducts laboratory and clinical research
investigations into the causes, prevention and treatment of ocular inflammatory
processes due to autoimmune disorders, infection, or genetic defects.  Major
studies now underway include the clinical trial of a genetic therapy for the
treatment of gyrate atrophy; the development of techniques to transplant retinal
pigment epithelium (RPE) cells to replace RPE cells that have been destroyed by
disease; and the clinical study of ocular complications of AIDS and treatments
to prevent loss of vision in patients with AIDS.

o  The Ophthalmic Genetics and Clinical Services Branch directs its research
efforts on three important clinical research areas:  the development of effective
therapies to treat visually disabling inherited diseases; the development of in
vivo assessment of cataract formation and measurement of cataract progression
using image analysis systems; and the development of new psychophysical and
electro-physiological technologies to assess visual function.

o  The Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research studies the neurological mechanisms
for vision, eye movements, and cognitive and perceptual processes.  Using
computer graphics simulation of complicated visual environments, investigators
are also working to answer questions such as the nature of visual search.  The
laboratory is using knowledge gained from such studies to undertake clinical
studies of eye movement disorders such as strabismus.

o  The Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology is concentrating its
research efforts on the study of eye-specific genes involved in hereditary
blinding diseases.  Based on what is known about the unique characteristics of
the visual process, genes specific to the eye, particularly the neural retina,
the lens and the cornea should be relatively numerous in these tissues.  In
addition, a number of these unique genes should be associated with and cause at
least a portion of many blinding diseases that have been described clinically.

o  The Laboratory of Mechanisms of Ocular Diseases conducts research in two
important areas: lens and cataract, and the role of aldose reductase in diabetic
complications.  Investigators are testing combinations of agents such as
antioxidants, protease inhibitors, and phase separation inhibitors for efficacy
in preventing various experimental cataracts.  In the other area of
investigation, the enzyme aldose reductase (AR) has been implicated in the
development of diabetic complications.  Investigators are examining this process
and working to develop improved means of regulating its activity and expression.

o  The Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology conducts studies that
are directly relevant to our understanding of the expression and evolution of
ocular genes, with an emphasis on understanding fundamental processes.  This work
paves the way for the development of genetic therapies to treat hereditary
disorders with particular emphasis of lense and cornea.

o  The Laboratory of Ocular Therapeutics focuses on the development, evaluation,
and mechanism of action of new ophthalmic drugs to treat eye diseases, with
emphasis on anti-cataract agents and inhibitors of aldose reductase, an enzyme
that has been implicated in the development of diabetic complications.

o  The Biometry and Epidemiology Program plans, develops, and conducts human
population studies concerned with the causation, prevention, and treatment of eye
disease and visual disorders, with emphasis on the major causes of blindness.

ALLOWABLE COSTS

Intramural Phase:

The budget for the intramural phase including salary, research expenses,
training, and travel will be negotiated with the sponsor, NEI Laboratory Chief,
and NEI Scientific Director and will depend upon the nature and scope of the
research.  Salary of the NEI Scholar must be commensurate with the level of
training and experience of the individual and will be negotiated with NEI at the
time of an award.  Laboratory equipment purchased for the NEI Scholar during the
intramural phase is not transferable to the extramural institution.

Extramural Phase:

The budget for the extramural phase may not exceed $175,000 per year or $350,000
for two years in direct costs.

1.  Salary:  At the extramural institution, the NEI Scholar will be provided with
salary support plus fringe benefits.  Salary requests should conform to the
established, consistently applied policy of the institution for other staff
members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities, and reflect no
more than the percentage of time actually devoted to the project.  The total
salary requested must be based on a full-time, 12-month staff appointment, and
there should be no less than 75 percent effort devoted by the NEI Scholar
specifically to the proposed research program.  Although NEI Scholars are subject
to a legislatively imposed salary cap (currently $125,000), NEI does not impose
a special cap on salary requests.  The institution may supplement the NEI
contribution.  However, supplementation may not be from Federal funds unless
specifically authorized by the Federal program from which such funds are derived. 
In no case may PHS funds be used for salary supplementation.  Institutional
supplementation of salary must not require extra duties or responsibilities that
would interfere with the purpose of this award.

2.  Research support:  NEI will provide support for research expenses such as
supplies, equipment, consultants, patient care costs, technical personnel, travel
to research meetings or training, and statistical services.

3.  Ancillary Personnel Support:  Salary for secretarial and administrative
assistance is not allowed.

4.  Indirect costs (facilities and administrative costs):  Indirect costs will
be reimbursed at eight percent of modified total direct costs, or at the actual
indirect cost rate, whichever is less.

Special Restrictions

Acceptance into the NEI Scholars Program does not convey any commitment or intent
of the NEI to consider the NEI Scholar for a tenure track position.  The NEI
Scholars Program is specifically intended to help develop scientists who will
pursue their careers in the extramural biomedical research community.  However,
NEI Scholars are not explicitly precluded from applying for available tenure
track positions at the NIH.  If an NEI Scholar obtains a NEI tenure-track or
other NIH position, the NEI Scholar's award  will be terminated.

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their
subpopulations must be included in all NIH-supported biomedical and behavioral
research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling
rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate with
respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.  This
policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public
Law 103-43).

Investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the NIH
Guidelines For Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research
which were published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59
14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 23, No. 11,
March 18, 1994.

Investigators may obtain copies from these sources or from the program staff or
contact person listed under INQUIRES.  Program staff may also provide additional
relevant information concerning the policy.

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN AS PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of NIH that children (individuals under the age of 21) must be
included in all human subjects research conducted or supported by the NIH, unless
there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.  This policy
applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for receipt dates after
October 1, 1998.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read "NIH
Policy and Guidelines on the Inclusion of Children as Participants in Research
Involving Human Subjects" that was published in the NIH Guide for Grants and
Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is available at the following URL address: 
http://www.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-024.html

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Individuals interested in applying for the NEI Scholars Program must identify a
sponsor in NEI's Division of Intramural Research, prior to submitting an
application.  An individual should communicate directly with the sponsor whose
research interest and training availability complements her/his own interest.

Submission Procedures:

Applications are to be submitted on form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) and will be accepted
on the receipt deadlines indicated in the application kit.  Application kits are
available at most institutional offices of sponsored research and the Division
of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, National Institutes of Health,
6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone: 301/435-0714;
email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.  Forms are also available on the NIH website at
http://www.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application and three signed
photocopies in one package to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040 - MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD  20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, in order to expedite the initial review of the
application, two additional exact copies of the complete application must be sent
to:

Andrew Mariani, Ph.D.
Scientific Review Branch
National Eye Institute
6120 Executive Boulevard, Suite 350, MSC 7164
Bethesda, MD  20892-7164
Rockville, MD  20852 (for express/courier service)

Supplemental Application Guidelines:

The initial application for the NEI Scholars Program will not be processed
through the individual's current institution.  Therefore, these supplemental
guidelines should be followed:

Type the title (NEI Scholars Program) and the program announcement (PA) number
on line 2 of the face page of the application, and mark the YES box;

Enter in item 6 (Dates of Proposed Period of Support) the combined years of
support needed to complete the intramural and the extramural phases of the NEI
Scholars Program;

Leave items 9-14 and 16 on the face page blank;

Provide applicant's signature in item 15; a signature is not required for item
16;

Do not submit a Checklist Page;

Utilize the "Research Career Award" Table of Contents page, but re-label the
page, "NEI Scholars Award."  This page is included in the form PHS 398
application kit and will facilitate organizing the research and career
development components of the application.  Add a "Career Development Plan" under
"Section II: Specialized Information";

Provide an official certified transcript covering medical school or the graduate
school level of education;

Include a biographical sketch of the candidate and the sponsor.

The application must address the following issues:

Candidate

Describe the candidate's commitment to a career in biomedical research;

Establish the candidate's potential to develop into a successful independent
investigator;

Provide three sealed letters of recommendation addressing the candidate's
potential for a laboratory or clinical research career.  It is recommended that
one letter should be from the most recent mentor in either a postdoctoral
research or clinical setting or from the applicant's thesis advisor.  These
sealed letters are to be attached to the face page of the original application.

Career Development Plan:

Describe a career development plan incorporating the candidate's immediate and
long-term career objectives and goals, explaining how the proposed program would
contribute to their attainment;

Describe a systematic plan to obtain the necessary laboratory or clinical
research experience to launch an independent research career.  Plans for
continued scientific development for a research career may include the need for
any courses, training in research techniques or methods, etc.;

Describe plans to receive instruction in the responsible conduct of research. 
These plans must detail the proposed subject matter, format, frequency, and
duration of instruction, as well as the amount and nature of senior staff
participation.  No award will be made if an application lacks this component.
(Candidate and Career Development Plan Sections should not exceed five pages.)

Sponsor's Statement (not to exceed one page):

Include information on the sponsor's research qualifications and previous
research training experience;

Describe the nature and extent of the sponsor's commitment and supervision that
will occur during the intramural phase of this program;

Describe the elements of research training planned for the candidate, including
any formal courses and demonstrate how these will promote the candidate's
scientific independence.

Research Plan (not to exceed twenty pages):

Describe the research plan as outlined in PHS 398 application kit, "Research
Career Award section", page IV-6, including hypothesis and specific aims,
background, significance and rationale, preliminary studies and any results, and
research design and methods.  The candidate should consult with the sponsor
regarding the development of the research project;

Describe research plans that are sufficient to justify up to four years of
support in the NEI intramural laboratories;

Provide future research directions for the extramural phase, i.e., what are the
broad research goals and potential avenues of research that would be stimulated
by the  specific research project;

Relate the research plan to the candidate's career goals and career development
plan.

NEI Environment and Institutional Commitment (not to exceed one page):

Document a strong, well-established research program related to the candidate's
area of interest, including a highly qualified environment with staff capable of
productive collaboration with the candidate;

Provide a statement by sponsor documenting a commitment of space and resources
from the NEI Scientific Director to foster the candidate's development into a
productive, independent investigator.

Budget:

Using continuation pages as needed, provide in a narrative format justification
for the budgetary needs of the proposed research program including personnel,
equipment, supplies, and travel.  Do not provide any dollar figures in the
application.  The candidate should work with the potential sponsor to devise a
reasonable budget for the intramural phase;

The final budget will be negotiated when a selected candidate accepts a position
and will be within the allowable costs specified above.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by the CSR for completeness and by
NEI extramural staff for responsiveness to this PA.  Applications that are
incomplete and unresponsive to this PA will be returned to the applicant without
further consideration.

Applications that are complete and responsive to this PA will be evaluated for
scientific and technical merit in accordance with the review criteria stated
below by an appropriate initial peer review group (IRG) convened by the
Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research, NEI.  As part of the
initial merit review, all applications will receive a priority score and a
written critique.  In addition, applications will receive a second level of
review by the National Advisory Eye Council.

Review Criteria

The peer review criteria for applications submitted in response to this PA are:

Candidate

Commitment to an independent research career;

Potential to develop into an outstanding scientist who will make significant
contributions to the field and develop into an independent investigator;

Quality and breath of prior scientific training and experience including, where
appropriate, the record of previous research support and publications.

Career Development Plan

Likelihood that the career development plan will contribute substantially to the
scientific development of the candidate;

Consistency of the career development plan with the candidate's career goals;

Appropriateness of the proposed training experience to the candidate's career
development, considering the candidate's goals and prior experience.

Sponsor

Appropriateness of sponsor's research qualifications in the scientific area of
this application and sponsor's history of research productivity and support;

Quality and extent of the sponsor's proposed role in providing guidance and
advice to the candidate.  Adequacy of the nature and extent of supervision that
will occur during the proposed award period;

Previous experience in fostering the development of researchers and as a research
supervisor;

Appropriateness of the sponsor's research interests and qualifications to the
training and career development needs of the candidate.

Research Plan

Provide a research plan that is consistent with the candidate's level of research
development and training;

Appropriateness of the research plan to the stage of research development and as
a vehicle for developing the research skills described in the career development
plan;

Scientific and technical merit of the research question, design and methodology.

NEI Institutional Commitment and Environment

Appropriateness of environment and resources commitment related to the
candidate's research interest and career development plan.

Budget

Justification of budget request for the intramural phase of the award in relation
to needs of the research project and training activities proposed.

SELECTION PROCEDURES

Intramural Phase:

Following the initial peer review, the application will be considered by a NEI
Scholars Selection Panel (NSSP) consisting of senior NEI extramural and
intramural scientists.  Based on priority score, summary statement, and NEI
programmatic priorities and research training needs, the NSSP committee will
identify the highly meritorious candidates to determine the final awards.  The
NEI Division of Extramural Research will coordinate notification on the status
of the candidate's application.

Extramural Phase:

The NEI Board of Scientific Counselors will conduct a formal scientific and
training progress review, one year prior to the end of the intramural phase.  The
results of this formal review will be presented in writing to the NEI Scholar. 
Approval will result in eligibility for the extramural phase of the Career
Transition Award (K22) and up to an additional year of intramural support to
facilitate the transition to an extramural institution.  Disapproval will result
in a terminal year of intramural support with no transition funding.

Approval of the transition to the extramural phase could be made at any time
prior to the third year of intramural support.  However, the maximum extramural
phase would remain at two years and any remaining unused portion of the
intramural phase will not be carried over into the two-year extramural phase.

Prior to activation of the extramural phase of the program, the NEI Scholar must
obtain a position as an independent researcher at an eligible, sponsoring
extramural institution. The extramural institution must demonstrate a commitment
to the NEI Scholar by providing protected research time and sufficient space and
resources needed to perform the research.  Matching funds from the institution
for equipment, supplies, and salary are encouraged.

For the extramural phase, the extramural institution will request a change of
institution by submitting an application using form PHS 398, at least four months
prior to the beginning of the expected start date of the extramural phase. 
Instructions for this non-competing NIH Career Transition Award (K22) will be
provided by the NEI Division of Extramural Research.  The non-competing
application will evaluated by NEI Division of Extramural Research and by the
NAEC.

AWARD CRITERIA

Final selection for the NEI Scholars Program will be made by the NEI Director
based on IRG recommendations, the need for research personnel in specific
programmatic areas, NEI program priorities, balance among the types of research
training supported by the NEI, and the availability of funds.  The NEI will
notify the applicant of the final action shortly after the NAEC meeting.

Schedule

Application Receipt Date:      Feb 1       Jun 1       Oct 1 Initial Review:   
            Jun/Jul     Oct/Nov     Feb/March Council Review:               
Sep/Oct     Jan/Feb     May/Jun Earliest Possible Start Date:  Dec         Apr 
       Jul

INQUIRES

Inquires are encouraged concerning this PA, especially during the planning phase
of the application.  The opportunity to clarify any issues or address questions
from potential applicants is welcome.

Address inquiries regarding extramural programmatic issues to:

Maria Y. Giovanni, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Research
National Eye Institute
6120 Executive Boulevard, Suite 350, MSC 7164
Bethesda, MD  20892-7164
Telephone:  (301) 496-0484
FAX:  (301) 402-0528
Email:  myg@nei.nih.gov

Address inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Carolyn E. Grimes
Division of Extramural Research
National Eye Institute
6120 Executive Boulevard, Suite 350, MSC 7164
Bethesda, MD  20892-7164
Telephone:  (301) 496-5884
FAX:  (301) 496-9997
Email:  cegrimes@nei.nih.gov

Address inquires regarding intramural issues, such as selecting a sponsor, to:

Frederick Ferris, M.D.
Division of Biometry and Epidemiology
Telephone:  (301) 496-6583
Email:  flf@b31.nei.nih.gov

Peter F. Kador, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Ocular Therapeutics
Telephone:  (301) 496-6993
Email:  Pk1p@nei.nih.gov

Muriel I. Kaiser, M.D.
Ophthalmic Genetics and Clinical Services Branch
Telephone:  (301) 496-3577
Email:  Kaiserm@intra.nei.nih.gov

Robert B. Nussenblatt, M.D.
Laboratory of Immunology
Telephone:  (301) 496-3123
Email:  rnq@helix.nih.gov

Joram Piatigorsky, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology
Telephone:  (301) 496-9467
Email:  joramp@intra.nei.nih.gov

Scott M. Whitcup, M.D.
Clinical Branch
Telephone:  (301) 496-9058
Email:  scottw@helix.nih.gov

Robert H. Wurtz, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research
Telephone:  (301) 496-7170
Email:  bob@lsr.nei.nih.gov

Barbara N. Wiggert, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology
Telephone:  (301) 496-5809
Email:  bnwigg@helix.nih.gov

J. Samuel Zigler, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Mechanisms of Ocular Diseases
Telephone:  (301) 496-6669
Email:  szigler@helix.nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No.
93.867.  Awards are made under the authority of Title III, Section 301 of the PHS
Act as amended (Public Law 78-410, as amended, 42 USC 241).  The Code of Federal
Regulations, Title 42 Part 52, and Title 45  Part 74, are applicable to this
program.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review
requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free
workplace and promote the non-use of tobacco products. In addition, Public Law
103-227, The Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities
(or, in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine
education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development
services are provided for children.  This is consistent with the PHS mission to
protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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