Category: Endodontics

VCU Grad Endo Leaving Their Mark!

The VCU endodontic residents have kept very busy in the graduate endodontic clinic this year providing endodontic care and support for patients from within the VCU dental clinics along with patients from the Richmond area. But did you know…………….

1. Two of our residents, Dr’s Cyrous Ardalan and Eshwar Arasu were selected by the AAE Foundation for Endodontics to travel abroad to Jamaica to provide endodontic care to the Jamaican people. Traveling in October of this past fall, Dr’s Ardalan and Arasu met up with another mission team and provided endodontic care to many patients over the course of the week. With the use of a surgical microscope (loaned to the mission trip by Seiler), both residents provided a high level of care using modern equipment not typically seen in this part of the world. They were the second pair of endodontic residents to be selected by the Foundation for Endodontics in the Foundation’s new efforts at saving teeth in an area where extractions are frequently the treatment of choice. Both residents came away with a new perspective on how they might be able to use their skills to help others in impoverished areas of the world.

2. More recently, all eight of the endodontic residents attended the American Association of Endodontists annual meeting held in late April in New Orleans, Louisiana. Each of the residents made presentations during the poster clinics and table clinics at this meeting (3 research poster presentations and 3 table clinic presentations) and the table clinic presented by Dr’s Laura Garden and Megan Green placed in the top ten table clinic presentations thus winning an award and bringing some more recognition to VCU endodontics. Congrats to these two residents! The meeting provided some great speakers for the residents to listen to over the four day period and of course the evenings provided the opportunity for enjoying some good Cajun food and New Orleans style music. It provided a nice break from the rigors of a residency program.

3. What’s to come? In late May, Dr’s Husain Karashi and Eshwar Arasu will be traveling with myself to Guatemala City for a week where we will work with some Guatemalan endodontic residents providing surgical endodontic care at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin. This will be the first of what we hope to be an annual trip to provide our residents with an opportunity to increase their endodontic surgical experiences. Case information and radiographs will be shared ahead of time so that we can hit the ground running when we arrive. We will also have the opportunity to provide some lectures and discussions with our Guatemalan hosts during the week. This type of collaboration will help spread the dental care that is taught at VCU to our friends in need abroad.

So that is a glimpse into some of what the endodontic residents have been up to over the past several months. At the end of June we will see our second year residents graduate and they are headed in various directions – Dr. Arasu will be joining a practice in the Nashville, Tennessee area, Dr. Ardalan will be joining a practice in the New Orleans area, Dr. Riley Sturgill will be opening her own practice in Tennessee and Dr. Husain Karashi will continue on for another year here at VCU as an endodontic fellow faculty member. All four will do great as they head out on their own very shortly. The Department of Endodontics wishes the best of summers to you all!

March 2017 Newsletter

March 2017 Newsletter

July 2016 Newsletter

July 2016 Newsletter

January 2016 Newsletter

January 2016 Newsletter

Our current resident class

First-year residents

Laura Tolusso Garden

is originally from Roanoke, Virginia. She attended the University of Virginia for her undergraduate studies and then earned her D.D.S. from VCU School of Dentistry in 2012. She completed an AEGD at UNC Chapel Hill, practiced general dentistry in Midlothian, Virginia for three years and is thrilled to be returning to VCU. In her free time, you can find Laura somewhere near the river with her husband, Ben, and chocolate lab, Fisher, or out enjoying Richmond’s great restaurant scene. Ben and Laura are also preparing to welcome their first child this November.

Megan Green

is from Atlanta, GA, and attended the University of Georgia for her undergraduate studies where she cheered for a year. She attended the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA for dental school. She loves watching Georgia football, and enjoys working out and cooking. As a new Richmond resident she is excited to enjoy all of the restaurants and culture this city has to offer.

Richard Sedwick

A graduate of VCU School of Dentistry in 2011, Richard Sedwick has returned to VCU excited to further his career and education in Endodontics. He is originally from Harrisonburg, VA, and has recently been practicing and living in the Staunton area with his wife, Heather, and their three children: Charlotte, Elliott, and Vivian. When he’s not reading dental lit or playing with the kids, Richard enjoys playing and watching soccer, hiking, and eating popcorn while watching Netflix.

Mei Tang

Mei Tang came to the US to pursue higher education. Originally from Macau, China, she graduated from University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Toxicology. She received her D.M.D. degree from University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and completed a general practice residency at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. She then interned at VCU Department of Endodontics before joining the endodontic residency program this summer. Her interests include baking, table tennis and argentine tango.

Second-year residents

Dr. Cyrous Ardalan

Ardalan grew up in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 2007. After dental school, he completed a GPR at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He then practiced dentistry in New Orleans, LA before coming to VCU for his endodontic training. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and playing the guitar.


Dr. Riley Sturgill (husband Jeremiah)

Sturgill grew up in the small rural town of Piney Flats, Tenn. She graduated from King University in 2008, the same year she got married and moved with her husband, Jeremiah, to Arizona for both of them to attend the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. Fast forward six years, and they are now in Richmond, Va. He practices orthodontics, and she specializes in endodontics at VCU. Sturgill loves nature, her pets (Keeper the golden retriever and Pogo the orange cat), and any sport, game or outdoor activity, making Richmond a great place for her and her family to live.

Dr. Husain Karashi

Karashi is from Kuwait. He attended Creighton University for his undergraduate studies. Later he earned his D.D.S. from Creighton University School of Dentistry. He went back to Kuwait and practiced for two years before joining the endodontic residency program at VCU. In his free time he enjoys playing soccer, running, baking and hanging out with family and friends.

Resident PhotoDr. Eshwar Arasu

Arasu is from Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he received his D.M.D. from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 2015. He divides his time evenly between playing tennis, watching football, and eating at Chipotle.

September 2015 Newsletter

Department of Endodontics Newsletter: September 2015

November 2014 Newsletter

Department of Endodontics Newsletter: November 2014

Staff updates

Ryan Brown was born and raised in Richmond, Va., and has been married to his beautiful wife Tiffany for six years with three children: Dakota, 5; Teagan, 3; and Connor, 16 months. Brown is the clinic manager for the Department of Endodontics. He has been with the VCU School of Dentistry since 2010 and with endodontics since April 2012. He manages the day-to-day operations of the graduate clinic and the overall flow of the clinic to ensure the best care for VCU patients. He also assists chairside with the residents during root canal treatments. He loves all things dental but has a special place in his heart for endodontics.

Brown received all of his training here at the VCU School of Dentistry, as this is a second career for him. He went to school to be a machinist and was a machine mechanic for 10 years.

In the graduate endodontics clinic, the team provides quality root canal treatment with eight residents as well as a wealth of full-time and part-time faculty delivering many years of endodontic knowledge. They treat between 24 and 36 patients each day, four days a week, as they service all the departments in the dental school. The team also has a presence at the Mission of Mercy Project in Wise, Va., where they treat underprivileged patients who normally could not afford endodontic care. Go, Team Endo!

Trey Hall is from a little town in southern Virginia called Scottsburg. He moved to Richmond, Va., in 2007. He got interested in dentistry after visiting his family dentist and seeing how he really helped people who were ashamed of their smiles. Hall spoke with his dentist about the profession and decided to try it out.

He attended J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and received his CDA as well as X-ray certification. After graduating, he came to work at the VCU school of Dentistry. In March 2012, he started working in the Department of Endodontics and has been here ever since. Being at the school, he has learned a lot about root canals and patient management.

Ana Y. Vargas is from Costa Rica. She found her passion for dentistry in Costa Rica when she worked as a dental assistant for an endodontist for one summer as a part-time job. When she came to the United States, she continued to love dentistry and decided to pursue a certificate as a dental assistant while working in public health with a general dentist, where she gained a great deal of experience. Afterward, she worked in pediatric dentistry where it’s impossible not to feel like a kid again. She learned a lot of different procedures and treatments like oral sedation as well as general anesthesia, and she now has an Anesthesia Assistant Certification.

Now, Vargas is happily working in endodontics, which she loved from day one. She has learned how to take CT scans and is amazed by the procedures and surgeries as well as all the different things that she continues to learn every day from faculty and residents.

Sarah Seckman is from Midlothian, Va. She originally became interested in dentistry at a young age through the inspiration of her family dentist, a well-known artist whose paintings you may have seen spread throughout the hallways of the VCU School of Dentistry and other VCU buildings.  She started out wanting to pursue art school but shifted her focus to dentistry after a neighbor was diagnosed with cancer and hearing that their mutual dentist, Dr. W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. (D.D.S. ’70) had given her a full mouth restoration at no charge due to her teeth deteriorating from chemotherapy treatment. He simply wanted to reduce some of the stress she was undergoing at the time and help give her confidence. It was then that she knew she could balance both passions – being able to give back and implementing my creative side as well.

As a recent graduate from VCU with a B.S. in biology, Seckman began working in the Department of Endodontics in the summer of 2014 and has grown a deeper appreciation for the specialty, considering that she was not exposed to many root canals from working in general private practices in the past. Working with microscopes and cone beams gives a huge advantage when working in millimeter lengths deep down in a canal that can hardly be seen. Not to mention manipulating X-rays to diagnose abnormal tooth anatomy or extra canals. She especially enjoys assisting with complicated cases, children and patients with special needs and loves seeing what may start off as a negative experience end positively and changing someone’s perception on the way they view dentistry. Root canals have a bad reputation associated with pain, but working in endodontics has been one of the most positive and rewarding opportunities for Seckman. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with the Virginia Dental Association and attending MOM projects and spending time with her three-year-old son, Ben.

New faculty in endodontics

Ginny East_DDS_EndodonticsDr. Virginia East (D.D.S. ’85, Endodontics ’87) is from the great state of New York. She was a pioneer and attended Villanova University the first year they accepted female students. She moved to Virginia and graduated from the VCU School of Dentistry in 1985. She had two children in dental school completed a certificate in endodontics in 1987. At that time, you had to wait five years before you were eligible to take your boards.  East was board certified in endodontics in 1993. She practiced with Dr. Richard Hill in Richmond, Va. A year later, East opened a private practice in Richmond, Va., and worked there from 1987 – 2009. She loved her time in private practice and came to the dental school and taught part-time in the predoctoral clinic for five years.Life is what happens when making plans. East had a sports injury and later sold her practice. She was able to have a new surgical procedure performed in California, which allowed her to return to dentistry. She joined the endodontic faculty at the VCU School of Dentistry in 2012. East continues to teach full-time and enjoys teaching the general dentists of the future to do endodontics well. She finds it interesting to come back to her alma mater and see the changes that have occurred in the school. It has become a very culturally diverse place.

East is excited about the opportunities that are available in other areas of VCU as well. She currently is working with the VCU School of Engineering and VCU Innovation Gateway on projects related to endodontics. She enjoys traveling, camping in the Airstream and playing with her grandchildren.

Garry Myers_DDS_Endodontics

Dr. Garry L. Myers comes to VCU from Olympia, Wash., where he was a private practitioner in endodontic. After completing a degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he received his D.D.S. from the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio dental school in 1985. Myers then left his Texas roots and entered the U.S. Air Force where he served as a dental officer for the next 13 years with assignments in Virginia, California, Texas, Nevada and Alaska. During his Texas assignment, he completed a residency program in endodontics at Wilford Hall Medical Center in 1991 and, despite the distractions of living in Las Vegas for the next four years, Myers was able to successfully complete the requirements to become a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics in 1994.

In 1998, Myers left the USAF to enter private practice in Olympia, Wash., where he practiced for the next 16 years. In 2007 he began teaching part-time at the University of Washington dental school in Seattle working with the endodontic residents one day a week, which quickly became his favorite day of the week. Myers was actively involved with the Washington State Association of Endodontists where he served as president from 2006 – 2007, and this evolved into his participation at the AAE level where he has served on a variety of committees, represented District VI on the Board of Directors and currently serves as the secretary for the AAE. Myers and his wife, Doreen, relocated to Richmond, Va., where he joined the VCU School of Dentistry Department of Endodontics on a full-time basis in July 2014 as an assistant professor. With him he brings a passion for Texas Longhorn football, an interest in photography and a love for the outdoors, having volunteered for 16 years on the Iditarod trail and hiking all around Mount Rainier National Park.

Dr. Spatafore

Dr. Clara Spatafore was born in Clarksburg, W.Va., and attended West Virginia University where she received her undergraduate degree in medical technology. She then earned her D.D.S., M.S. and certificate in endodontics from West Virginia University School of Dentistry. Prior to attending the endodontics program at WVU, she was in private practice as a general dentist in Pittsburgh for three years. After her endodontics program, Spatafore served in the U.S. Navy and then as chairman at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Endodontics. She then practiced at Allegheny General Hospital for 16 years and maintained a private practice during that time in Sewickley, Penn.

Currently, she works part-time in private practice in Sewickley, Penn., and also serves as an assistant professor of endodontics and chair of the Department of Endodontics at the VCU School of Dentistry. She maintains hospital privileges and teaches at Allegheny General Hospital and is a clinical instructor at the WVU School of Dentistry.

Spatafore, a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, has been a member of the American Association of Endodontics since 1987. She has held a variety of leadership roles with the organization’s board, including president, president-elect, vice president and secretary of its executive committee as well as a director of the board, has served on several AAE committees and also serves on the Journal of Endodontics Scientific Review Board. Spatafore is a member of the American Dental Association, the Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania Dental Associations and the American College of Dentistry. She lectures nationally and internationally in all facets of endodontics.

She and her husband, Philip Bartling, reside in Sewickley, Penn. and Richmond, Va.  They have four children: Daniel and his wife Lena are AEGD residents at the Bay Pines VA Hospital in Florida;  Matthew works for Cascades Resorts in Vail, Colo.; Justina is a first-year student at the Tufts School of Vetinary Medicine in Boston; and Alyssa a freshman at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

Part-time faculty at VCU

Here in the Department of Endodontics, we owe a debt of gratitude to the part-time faculty who volunteer at the school. Whether it is for a half-day once a month or one day every week, they contribute so much to the department, the residents and the field of endodontics. We appreciate their time and commitment. Here are just a few of the people that give their valuable time back to the school.

FinklerDr. Timothy J. Finkler (D.D.S. ’01, Endodontics ’11) was raised in Chester, Va. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the Virginia Military Institute in 1990. In 2001, he received his D.D.S. from the VCU School of Dentistry. He followed dental school at McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Va., for a two-year General Practice Residency.After time in private practice, he returned to VCU and joined the Department of Endodontics. In 2011, he received his certificate in endodontics and M.S.D. from the VCU School of Dentistry and retired from more than 20 years of service in the Virginia Air National Guard.In 2011, he joined Commonwealth Endodontics. He is the first endodontist to provide IV Conscious Sedation to patients in the greater Richmond area.Finkler currently resides in Glen Allen, Va., with his wife Kim and their four almost always perfect children. He enjoys sports, most any outside activity and spending time with his family and friends. Finkler finds teaching very rewarding and a great way to give back.  He has enjoyed teaching at the McGuire Hospital GPR and the VCU School of Dentistry general practice and endodontic departments.

photo_Madelyn GambrelDr. Madelyn Gambrel (Endodontics ’03) was born and raised in Bonham, Texas, a small town northeast of Dallas. She received a B.A. in Spanish from Baylor University in 1993 and graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio dental school in 1997. After receiving her D.D.S., she joined the U.S. Navy and served as a dental officer in Rota, Spain, until 2001. She then attended the VCU School of Dentistry, where she received her certificate in endodontics and Master’s degree in 2003. Upon graduation from endodontic residency, Gambrel moved to San Diego, where she completed her obligated service to the U.S. Navy in 2005. She then returned to Richmond, Va., in the fall of 2005 and joined Commonwealth Endodontics.

Gambrel is very active in the Richmond community and is a member of several local study clubs. She enjoys spending free time with her family, and her hobbies include attending live music concerts, movies, skiing, sailing, traveling and interior decorating.

Gambrel teaches at the VCU School of Dentistry because she loves interacting with the residents and giving them any advice she can to help guide them both clinically and professionally. The residents also help her stay current on the latest and greatest endo gadgets, technology and research.  So she learns a lot from them too!

DrJordanDr. Kalisha C. Jordan (D.D.S. ’05, Endodontics ‘11) received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She pursued a dental degree at the VCU School of Dentistry, graduating in 2005. Jordan continued her education with an AEGD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006.

Jordan practiced dentistry in Richmond, Va., from 2006 to 2007 and then joined the VCU School of Dentistry faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of General Practice. She taught from 2007 to 2009, after which she decided to specialize. Jordan received her M.S.D. in endodontics from the VCU School of Dentistry in 2011. She currently is in private practice in Williamsburg, Va., with Jordan Endodontics.

Jordan continues to teach at the school because she feels that giving back to the community and the specialty starts at the academic level. She, along with other adjuncts, devotes her time and experience to young endodontic residents, and they see that others care about their education and are committed to growth of the specialty of endodontics.

MartinezDr. Harold J. Martinez (Endodontics ’00) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He attended Kansas State University and, in 1989, received dual B.S. degrees in exercise physiology and foods and nutrition. In 1995, he obtained his D.D.S. from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, University of Maryland Dental School. He continued his dental education as a Dental Officer in the U.S. Air Force where he completed an AEGD in 1996 while stationed at Barksdale A.F.B. in Louisiana. After serving two additional years as a general dentist in Tyndall A.F.B. in Panama City, Fla., he came to Richmond, Va., to attend the VCU School of Dentistry, where he earned his certificate in endodontics in 2000.

Since graduating from the endodontic program, Martinez has been in private practice with Commonwealth Endodontics and serves as a part-time clinical instructor with the Department of Endodontics at the VCU School of Dentistry. He genuinely enjoys teaching the residents in the graduate endodontic clinic and providing them with the clinical knowledge gained through his years in private practice.

Martinez lives in Short Pump, Va. with his wife, Conchy, and their two children. He enjoys sports and nutrition, baseball, traveling and spending quality time with his family and friends.

Dr. Vaughn Mayo graduated from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 1979. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy and completed a GPR at Balboa Hospital in San Diego in 1980. The GPR helped prepare him for assignments in Gulfport, Miss., Puerto Rico, Diego Garcia, and New Orleans. Following his military service, Mayo completed an endodontic residency  at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio.

Immediately after completing endodontic training in 1985, Mayo moved to Virginia Beach, Va., and practiced endodontics as part of a group for 24 years, including 17 years in practice with Dr. Rick Archer. Mayo started a solo practice, Mayo Endodontics in 2009.

In July 2010, with coaxing from Archer, Mayo joined the VCU School of Dentistry as an adjunct professor in the Department of Endodontics. He enjoys teaching and sharing his perspectives and experiences handling challenging endodontic cases with the residents. He find their intelligence and enthusiasm contagious. Working with them helps him stay current on research, literature, technology and provides a great break in the routine of a solo endodontic practice.

On the personal side, Mayo is married to Jill, and they have two children plus a yellow lab. Their son, Chet, is a fourth-year student at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, and their daughter, Katie, is a fourth-year engineering student at the University of Virginia. He enjoys spending time with his family outdoors and especially likes to fly fish and engage in archery activities including bow hunting. Mayo is active with All Saints’ Episcopal Church.


Dr. Nick Schroeder (D.D.S. ’12), a 2012 graduate of the VCU School of Dentistry, is the current intern and will matriculate into the VCU School of Dentistry Endodontic Residency Program as a first-year resident in 2015. Schroeder is newly engaged to his fiancée Erica, and, during his free time from planning the wedding, he is either cooking or playing with his two dogs.

Dr. James Stanley (D.D.S. ’80, Endodontics ’91) is a native of Virginia and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., a Master’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree with honors at the VCU School of Dentistry. He also completed a general practice residency at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Ill., prior to completing his endodontic residency at the VCU School of Dentistry in 1991. Stanley holds a faculty appointment as associate professor in the Department of Endodontics at the VCU School of Dentistry.

Stanley routinely takes continuing education courses so he can keep abreast of the latest endodontic advances. He introduced the use of advanced microsurgical endodontic techniques into his practice in the early 1990’s, one of the first in Virginia to do so. These techniques allow him to provide exceptional care, usually in a single appointment. Stanley is certified by the American Board of Endodontists. By taking the initiative to achieve Diplomate status, Stanley has gone beyond the endodontic specialty education and licensing requirements of the American Dental Society and the state Board of Dentistry. Stanley also has completed a comprehensive training program in implant dentistry offered through the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry, Atlanta Institute for Advanced Education and American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

Stanley, who has practiced endodontics for more than 20 years, remains an active member of several dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, the Virginia Dental Association, the Lynchburg Dental Society, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and the American Association of Endodontists.


Dr. Ronald N. Vranas (D.D.S. ’96, Endodontics ’02) was born and raised in Mesa, Ariz. He attended the University of Arizona and received a B.S. in chemistry in 1990. In 1996, he obtained his D.D.S. from the VCU School of Dentistry.

After completing dental school, Vranas joined the U.S. Navy as a dental officer and completed an AEGD in 1997 while stationed with the marines at Parris Island in South Carolina. After serving three additional years as a Navy dentist at the Naval Air Facility, Atsugi, Japan, he returned to the VCU School of Dentistry, where he earned his certificate in endodontics in 2002. Vranas has been with Commonwealth Endodontics since 2002.

He lives in Richmond, Va., with his wife of 22 years and their four children. Vranas loves teaching part-time as an adjunct professor in the Department of Endodontics at the VCU School of Dentistry and has been teaching since 2002. He loves meeting and teaching the new residents, learning their stories and watching their knowledge of endodontics grow during their time in Richmond, Va.


Captain Terry D. Webb, Dental Corps, U.S. Navy, is currently the chairman of the Endodontics Department, program director of the Endodontics Residency Program and Specialty Leader for Endodontics to the U.S. Navy Surgeon General, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. He received his D.D.S. from the University of Tennessee in 1992. After a brief private practice experience, Webb joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed at NDC, San Diego. From there he spent 28 months stationed onboard the U.S.S. Fort McHenry (LSD-43) in San Diego and Sasebo, Japan. After a three-year tour at NDC Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Webb entered residency training where he received his certificate in endodontics in 2001 from the Naval Postgraduate Dental School along with an M.S. from George Washington University. After tours at 2D Dental Battalion, 2D FSSG, 12th Dental Company Cherry Point, N.C., and NDC, Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., he joined the staff of the Naval Postgraduate Dental School in 2006. He has served as the endodontics residency program director since 2008. He is a fellow of the International College of Dentists, an associate professor at the Postgraduate Dental College of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Endodontics at the VCU School of Dentistry and a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics.

The reason why Webb sought out the additional educational experience with VCU was to gain experience with a civilian residency program and also to gain a better understanding of how an endodontic residency program operates with a university setting and a dental school it supports. He continues to volunteer at VCU because he believes in the philosophy of giving back and enjoys working with the residents in a clinical setting. He appreciates how valuable an outsider’s perspective can be and hopes to help the residents in the clinic as well as help the staff in any way.

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