Full Text CA-97-007
 
THE NCI SCHOLARS PROGRAM
 
NIH GUIDE, Volume 26, Number 15, May 9, 1997
 
RFA:  CA-97-007
 
P.T. 34

Keywords: 
  Cancer/Carcinogenesis 
  Biomedical Research, Multidiscipl 

 
National Cancer Institute
 
Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  June 27, 1997
Application Receipt Date:  July 30, 1997
 
PURPOSE
 
The purpose of the NCI Scholars Program is to provide outstanding new
research investigators who are ready to initiate their first
independent program in cancer research with an opportunity to develop
their program in the supportive and uniquely interactive intramural
environment of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  The overall goal
is to facilitate their successful transition to an extramural
environment as independent researchers.  This program is also
intended to continually enhance and invigorate the NCI intramural
community by providing a cadre of new, creative scientists who will
interact with and expand the collaborative research opportunities of
NCI intramural scientists.  This program will uniquely address the
need of the NCI intramural laboratories to attract outstanding
scientists, and of the extramural cancer research community to
identify for staff appointments new investigators capable of
sustaining a successful research program.
 
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 request
for applications for the NCI 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 with a research or health professional doctoral level
degree or equivalent, with no more than five years of postdoctoral
research training at the time of application, and with demonstrated
outstanding abilities in basic, clinical or population-based (e.g.,
epidemiological) research, are eligible to apply.  This includes
individuals with postdoctoral research experience in any environment
(e.g., academic, industry, government).  Individuals who have had
more than five years of postdoctoral research training or who have
held research or other professorship positions or equivalent in
academe or elsewhere are NOT eligible to apply.  However, years of
clinical training will not count against the five years of relevant
research experience.  Individuals who have been principal
investigators on either PHS research grants (e.g. R29, R01, P01 or
its subprojects) or non-PHS peer reviewed research grants are NOT
eligible to apply for this award. Postdoctoral fellows at the NCI who
meet other eligibility requirements are eligible to apply, but will
not be considered for placement in Laboratories/Branches where they
have previously trained.
 
Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.  Candidates must be
U.S. citizens or noncitizen 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 award.  Noncitizen
nationals, although not U.S. citizens, 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.
 
All applicants are encouraged to contact the NCI regarding their
eligibility for this award (see Inquiries Section).
 
MECHANISM OF SUPPORT
 
The NCI Scholars Program will use the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) Career Transition Award (K22).  Responsibility for the
planning, direction, and execution of the proposed project will be
solely that of the applicant.
 
The NCI Scholars Program will consist of two phases:  an intramural
phase and an extramural phase.  The maximum total period of combined
intramural support at NCI and at the extramural institution for an
NCI Scholar will be six years. Initially, up to four years of the
Scholar's research program will be an Intramural Support Phase in
which the salary and the research costs of the successful Scholar
will be derived entirely from Intramural NCI resources.  The budget
cannot exceed $150,000 total costs per year or $600,000 total costs
over a four-year period, which is the maximum duration of the
Intramural Support Phase.
 
The final two years of the Scholar's research program will be an
Extramural Support Phase funded through the NIH Career Transition
Award (K03) mechanism.  The budget cannot exceed $125,000 plus fringe
benefits in direct costs per year or $250,000 plus fringe benefits in
direct costs over a two-year period which is the maximum duration of
the Extramural Support Phase.  Transition from the intramural phase
of support to the extramural phase is not automatic. Approval of the
transition will be based upon the success of the Scholar's research
program, as determined by a formal NCI scientific progress review
which will take place no later than the end of the third year of the
Intramural Support Phase.  Scholars who are approved to proceed with
this second phase of support will receive notification of approval in
writing from the NCI.  Once approved for the Extramural Support
Phase, the NCI will process the change in organization in response to
a request from the sponsoring institution that has recruited the
Scholar for the final two years of the award (see section on
INQUIRIES).
 
FUNDS AVAILABLE
 
It is anticipated that applications to the NCI Scholar's Program will
be solicited annually through the reissuance of this RFA.  Each
annual solicitation will indicate the general areas of research and
the number of positions that will be sponsored in that year.  For the
Intramural Support Phase, approximately $1,500,000 per year for up to
four years will be set aside to fund about 10 applications submitted
in response to this RFA.  However, this funding level is dependent
upon the receipt of a sufficient number of applications of
outstanding scientific merit as evaluated by peer review (see section
on REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS).
 
The number of Scholars who can be supported is based upon the
availability of resources and space in each sponsoring intramural
Division.
 
For the Extramural Support Phase, approximately $1,250,000 per year
in direct costs will be available to fund about 10 awards, providing
support for salaries and partial operating costs.  It is important to
note that a sponsoring extramural institution may submit a
noncompeting continuation application only after the Scholar has been
notified in writing that the NCI Progress Review Committee has
recommended approval of the transition to the extramural support
phase of the award.  The individuals noted in the section on
INQUIRIES should be consulted for any clarifications of intent or
content.
 
The earliest feasible start date for the initial awards will be
December 31, 1997.  Although this program is provided for in the
financial plans of the NCI, the support of research programs pursuant
to this RFA is also contingent upon the availability of funds for
this purpose.
 
RESEARCH TRAINING OBJECTIVES
 
Background
 
For decades, the intramural scientists and facilities of the National
Cancer Institute have provided a research environment for the
training of new scientists who have subsequently entered the
extramural biomedical research community and have become leaders in
their fields of investigation.  This has been accomplished primarily
through staff fellow and senior staff fellow programs that, to
varying degrees, have afforded independent research opportunities to
new scientists.  With the continuing effort of the NCI to develop an
intramural research environment of the highest scientific quality,
there is a new opportunity to use the unique intramural environment
of the NCI to effectively foster the research careers of individuals
who will pursue their careers as extramural scientists.
 
Goals and Scope
 
The NCI Scholars Program is designed for promising new investigators
in basic, clinical or population-based biomedical research (e.g.,
epidemiology) who have demonstrated outstanding scientific abilities
during their training, to enable them to establish their first
independent research program.  The major objective of the program is
to sustain and advance the early research careers of the most
promising investigators while they consolidate and focus their
independent research programs.  NCI Scholars will independently
design and pursue research projects in their area of interest for
which they would be provided with facilities, operating budget,
salary and personnel.  NCI Scholars will be responsible for all
aspects of their research program, including the progress of the
research and the management of allocated resources.
 
The participating NCI intramural divisions invite applications for
the support of Scholars who wish to develop independent research
programs in the following scientific areas:
 
o The Division of Basic Sciences encourages applications from
candidates with experience and interest in pursuing research in the
general areas of cell biology, cancer genetics, and immunology.
Specific areas of interest include:  chromatin structure, gene
regulation, signal transduction, cell transformation, cell cycle and
apoptosis.
 
o The Division of Epidemiology and Genetics encourages applications
from candidates with experience and interest in pursuing
epidemiologic or interdisciplinary research into the environmental
and genetic determinants of cancer.  Areas of specific research
interest include:  lifestyle and environmental risk factors, genetic
susceptibility, occupational exposures, infectious agents,
pharmacoepidemiology, radiation exposures, methodologic and
statistical research, or interdisciplinary studies (molecular
epidemiology).
 
o The Division of Clinical Sciences encourages applications from
candidates engaged in cancer genetics and cancer biology research.
Specific topics of interest include: exploratory technologies in
interrogating the human genome, in genetic instability, and the
molecular biology of angiogenesis, and of the cell cycle.  Consonant
with the goals of the division, applicants should be interested in
participating in the translation of basic findings to the clinical
setting.
 
ALLOWABLE COSTS
 
Intramural Support Phase:  The budget for the intramural support
phase cannot exceed $150,000 per year in total costs excluding
equipment.
 
The final budget for this phase of the award will be negotiated with
the sponsoring NCI intramural division and will depend upon the
nature and scope of the research as recommended by the peer review
process.
 
o Salaries will be provided for the Scholar and no more than two
additional positions (e.g. postdoctoral trainee and technician).
Salaries of the Scholar and other personnel must be commensurate with
the level of training  and experience specified in the Federal pay
schedule.
 
o Up to $25,000 per person will be provided for annual operating
expenses (e.g. supplies, disposables, copying, etc.).
 
o Up to $50,000 in the first year will be provided for laboratory
equipment.
 
 - Laboratory equipment purchased for the Scholar during the
intramural phase will not be transferable to the extramural position.
 
Extramural Support Phase:  The budget for the two year extramural
transition phase may not exceed $125,000 plus fringe benefits per
year in direct costs.
 
o Scholars will be provided salary support of up to $75,000 plus
applicable fringe benefits commensurate with the applicant
institution's salary structure for persons of equivalent
qualifications, experience, and rank.  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 Scholar
specifically to the proposed research program.  The institution may
supplement the NCI 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 may not require extra duties or responsibilities that would
interfere with the purpose of this award.  Under expanded
authorities, institutions may carry-over unexpended funds into the
next budget period and rebudget funds within the total costs awarded
but may not rebudget funds involving the salary component of the
budget.  The total salary requested must be based on a full-time 12
month staff appointment.
 
o Up to $50,000 per year in direct costs will be provided to
partially support ancillary personnel, supplies, equipment, travel,
tuition, and other costs which are deemed essential for the
individual's research program.
 
o 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 NCI Scholar's Program does not convey any
commitment or intent of the NCI to consider the Scholar for a tenure
track position within the NCI.  The NCI Scholars Program is
specifically intended to help develop scientists who will pursue
their careers in the extramural biomedical research community.
However, NCI Scholars are not explicitly precluded from applying for
available tenure track positions at the NIH.  If a Scholar obtains an
NIH position, the NCI Scholar's Career Transition Award (K22) 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 (Public Law 103-43) that added
Section 492B of the Public Health Service Act. The new policy
supersedes and strengthens the previous policies (Concerning the
inclusion of Women in Study Populations) which have been in effect
since 1990.  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, Volume 23, Number 11, March
18, 1994.
 
LETTER OF INTENT
 
Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by June 27, 1997 a letter
of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed research,
the name, address, telephone and FAX numbers, E-mail address of the
Principal Investigator, and the number and title of the RFA in
response to which the application is being submitted.  Although a
letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter
into the review of a subsequent application, it allows NCI staff to
estimate the potential review workload and avoid conflict of interest
in the review.
 
The letter of intent is to be sent to:
 
Dr. Vincent J. Cairoli
Division of Cancer Treatment, Diagnosis, and Centers
National Cancer Institute
Executive Plaza North, Room 520
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-8580
FAX:  (301) 402-4472
Email:  VC14Z@NIH.GOV
 
APPLICATION PROCEDURES
 
The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) is to be used
in applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most
institutional offices of sponsored research and may be obtained from
the Grants Information Office, Office of Extramural Outreach and
Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge
Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone: 301/435-0714,
E-mail:ASKNIH@ODROCKM1.OD.NIH.GOV and from the program administrator
listed under INQUIRIES.
 
The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev.  5/95) application form
must be affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.
Failure to use this label could result in delayed processing of the
application such that it may not reach the review committee in time
for review.  In addition, the RFA title and number must be typed on
line 2 of the face page of the application form and the YES box must
be marked.
 
Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application and three
signed photocopies in one package to:
 
DIVISION OF RESEARCH GRANTS
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, two additional copies of the application
must be sent to:
 
Ms. Toby Friedberg
Division of Extramural Activities
National Cancer Institute
6130 Executive Boulevard, Room 636
Bethesda, MD  20892-7407 (for U.S. Postal Service)
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)
 
Applications must be received by July 30, 1997.  If an application is
received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant
without review.  The Division of Research Grants (DRG) will not
accept any application in response to this RFA that is essentially
the same as one currently pending initial review, unless the
applicant withdraws the pending application.  The DRG will not accept
any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed.
 
Supplemental Application Guidelines
 
o The RFA title (NCI Scholar's Program) and the RFA number must be
typed on line 2 of the face page of the application, and the YES box
must be marked.
 
o The applicant must provide her/his signature in item 15; a
signature is not required for item 16.
 
o Leave items 9-14 and 16 on the face page blank.
 
o Enter in item 6 (Dates of Proposed Period of Support) the combined
6 years of support needed to complete the intramural and the
extramural support phases of the NCI Scholars Program.
 
o A Checklist Page should NOT be submitted.
 
o The applicant must provide an official certified transcript
covering medical school or the graduate school level of education.
 
o Three sealed letters of reference from well-established basic or
clinical scientists must be provided.  One should be from the
applicant's thesis advisor if applicable and one should be from the
most recent mentor in a postdoctoral research setting.  These letters
should be attached to the face page of the original application.  The
letters should address the following issues:
 
 - The applicant's past contributions to scientific achievements;
 
 - The applicant's special potential to pursue and develop an
independent research program;
 - The applicant's ability to work with other scientists in
various interactive situations (e.g..  seminars, journal clubs,
etc.), on collaborative research projects, and with support staff
(e.g., technicians, secretaries).
 
o Career Development Plan:
 
 - Applicants should describe their career goals and plans to achieve
an independent research career, e.g. the need for any courses,
research techniques or methods, etc.
 
o Research Plan:
 
 - The scientific objectives and specific aims should describe
research plans that are sufficient to justify up to four years of
support.  Applicants should also provide future research directions
for the extramural support phase should be provided, i.e. what are
the broad research goals and potential avenues of research that would
be stimulated by your specific research project.
 
o Budget:
 
 - The budget should span the proposed total duration of the award
(maximum 6 years) including both the intramural and extramural phases
(see section on ALLOWABLE COSTS).  Using continuation pages as
needed, provide in a detailed narrative format justification for the
budgetary needs of the proposed research program, including
personnel, consultants,equipment, supplies and travel.  The narrative
must be prepared carefully, as it will be a critical factor used by
peer reviewers in evaluating the applicant's ability to manage the
research program as proposed.
 
Extramural (Transition) Support Phase
 
After the Scholar/Awardee receives approval in writing for the
transition to extramural support (See section on SELECTION PROCESS,
Extramural Support Phase), the Scholar should contact NCI staff for
change of institution procedures (see section on INQUIRIES).
 
REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS
 
Application
 
Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by the Division of
Research Grants (DRG) staff for completeness.  Incomplete
applications will be returned to the applicant without further
consideration.
 
Applications also will be evaluated for responsiveness to this RFA.
This will be done by program staff of the NCI, the main criteria
being the applicant's eligibility and whether or not the research
proposal is reasonably within the scientific areas of interest
declared by the participating intramural divisions of the NCI (see
section on RESEARCH TRAINING OBJECTIVES, Goals and Scope).
Applications that are not responsive to the objectives of the RFA
will be returned to the applicant.
 
Applications which are complete and responsive to this RFA will be
evaluated for scientific and technical merit in accordance with the
review criteria stated below by an appropriate extramural initial
peer review group (IRG) convened by the NCI Division of Extramural
Activities.  As part of the initial merit review, all applications
will receive a written critique and may undergo a process in which
only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific merit
will be discussed and assigned a priority score.  All applications
will receive a second level of review by the National Cancer Advisory
Board.
 
Review Criteria
 
The initial peer review criteria for applications submitted in
response to this RFA will include the following:
 
Candidate
 
o Capacity to carry out independent research based on level of
training, experience and competence commensurate with the purposes of
this award.
 
o Past and present research productivity, e.g. contributions to the
scientific literature; success in obtaining fellowships.
 
o Ability to conceptualize and organize a research approach that will
make full use of the six years of support offered under this program.
 
o The special qualities of the applicant to work in a scientifically
interactive setting and collaborate with other scientists.  This
should be addressed in the letters of reference (see section on
APPLICATION PROCEDURES).
 
o Appropriateness of the applicant's career development plan and the
likelihood that the award will contribute substantially to the
continued scientific development and productivity of the candidate.
 
o Potential to become an outstanding scientist who will make
significant contributions to the field.
 
Research Plan
 
o Quality and innovativeness of the research plan, including
appropriateness and adequacy of the experimental approach and
methodology proposed to carry out the research.
 
o Potential of the research plan for contributing to the scientific
literature.
 
o Suitability of the proposed research plan for a six year research
program.
 
o Consistency of the research plan with the candidate's career goals.
 
o Where appropriate, adequacy of plans to include both genders and
minorities and their subgroups for the scientific goals of the
research.  Plans for recruitment and retention of subjects will also
be evaluated.
 
Budget
 
o Justification of budget requests in relation to career development
goals, research aims and plans.
 
SELECTION PROCESS
 
Intramural Support Phase
 
The priority score assigned to the application and the critique of
the IRG will be mailed to the applicant.  The peer review-evaluated
applications will be ranked according to priority score, and an NCI
Selection Committee (NSC) consisting of Senior Scientists from the
NCI Intramural Programs and the Chief of the NCI Cancer Training
Branch will identify the pool of highly meritorious candidates to be
invited to the NCI for interviews/seminars.  Criteria for this
recommendation will include the priority score of the candidate's
application and programmatic needs.  The recommendations of the NSC
for each candidate will be reviewed for approval by the NCI Executive
Committee. Following the interviews, a ranking and matching process
by both the applicants and the sponsoring intramural departments will
be used to determine the final awards.  The Cancer Training Branch
will coordinate the notification of the candidates about the status
of their application.
 
Extramural Support Phase
 
The NCI will conduct a formal scientific progress review no later
than the end of the third year of the intramural support phase to
determine whether or not the Scholar will be recommended for the
extramural phase of support.  This review will be conducted by an NCI
Progress Review Committee comprised of members of the NSC and other
ad hoc intramural and extramural scientists.  The results of the
review will constitute a final progress report for the intramural
phase and be presented in writing to the Scholar.  Approval will
result in eligibility for the extramural phase funding of the Career
Transition Award and up to a fourth additional year of intramural
support to facilitate the transition to an extramural laboratory.
Disapproval will result in a terminal fourth year of intramural
support with no transition funding.
 
Approval for the transition of the Scholar to the extramural support
phase could be made at any time prior to the third year of the
intramural support phase.  In such a case, the Scholar would remain
eligible for up to one additional year of intramural support.
However, the remaining unused portion of the intramural support phase
will not be carried over into the two year extramural support phase.
 
The Scholar must be accepted by an extramural institution which will
request a change in institution by submitting a form PHS 398
noncompeting application which must include an updated research
proposal and budget..  The application submitted by the Scholar and
the extramural institution for activation of the extramural phase of
the program will be evaluated by the NCI Cancer Training Branch and
Grants Administration Branch for completeness and responsiveness to
the RFA.
 
AWARD CRITERIA
 
Applications will compete for available funds with all other scored
applications submitted in response to this RFA.  The following will
be considered in making funding decisions: Quality of the proposed
project as determined by peer review, availability of funds, and
programmatic priorities. All NSC recommendations will be forwarded to
the NCAB as informational items.
 
EVALUATION
 
Intramural Support Phase
 
Each Scholar's research program will be evaluated for progress on an
annual basis like all other independent intramural scientific
research programs.  For this purpose, the Scholar will prepare on an
annual basis a progress report, which will subsequently be evaluated
by the corresponding laboratory/ branch chief and the appropriate NCI
division director.  Additionally, the NCI will conduct a formal
scientific progress review (See section on SELECTION PROCESS,
Extramural Support Phase) by no later than the end of the third year.
 
Extramural (Transition) Support Phase
 
The awardee will be required to submit a form PHS 2590 non-competing
continuation application for the final year of extramural support.
The application should provide a description of the research and
career progress of the awardee, including:  1) Publications in press
or submitted; 2) Current investigator-initiated research grant
support, and 3) All applications submitted for investigator-initiated
research grant support.  These annual reports will be closely
monitored by NCI staff to ensure that the awardee is achieving the
goals of the NCI Scholars Program.
 
The NCI may solicit information from the awardee after completion of
the extramural transition support phase regarding their career
progress, for the purpose of evaluating outcomes of the NCI Scholars
Program..
 
INQUIRIES
 
Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged, especially during the
planning phase of the application to clarify any issues or questions
from potential applicants.  NCI contacts for specific areas of
expertise are listed below:
 
Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:
 
Dr. Vincent J. Cairoli
Division of Cancer Treatment, Diagnosis, and Centers
National Cancer Institute
Executive Plaza North, Room 520
Bethesda, MD 20892-7390
Telephone:  301/496-8580
FAX:  301/402-4472
Email:  VC14Z@NIH.GOV
 
Direct inquiries regarding fiscal/administrative matters.  At least
two months prior to transition to the extramural phase, contact the
following official for information on application procedures for
submitting a PHS 398 application from the new applicant organization:
 
Ms. Sara Stone
Office of Administrative Management
National Cancer Institute
Executive Plaza South, Room 243
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  301/496-7800
FAX:  301/496-8601
Email:  STONES@GAB.NCI.NIH.GOV
 
AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS
 
This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance Number 93.398, Cancer Research Manpower.  Awards are made
under the authorization of the Public Health Service Act, Title IV,
Part A (Public Law 78-41 0, as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC
241 and 285) and administered under PHS grants policies and Federal
Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Part 74 and 45 CFR Part 92.
This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review
requirements of Executive Order 123 72 or Health Systems Agency
review.
 
The Public Health Service 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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