OBSSR Past Events

The OBSSR hosts virtual and in-person meetings that highlight behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). In coordination with the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices, other government agencies, and the wider BSSR community, OBSSR facilitates opportunities to network, collaborate, explore, and advance BSSR.

OBSSR hosts a Director’s Webinar Series on a variety of BSSR topics to help communicate BSSR findings and other relevant BSSR information. OBSSR’s annual in-person meetings include the NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors and the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. Subscribe to receive updates on the latest OBSSR and BSSR-related event information.

View the list of upcoming OBSSR events.

Past Events by Year

2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 and older
October 1, 2021, 9:00 - 10:30am | Virtual
The Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) open meetings include representatives from NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices and interested members of the public to meet to discuss behavioral and social sciences-relevant topics.
September 14, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Erich D. Jarvis, Ph.D.

Erich Jarvis, Ph.D. is the head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language and professor at The Rockefeller University. He is also a scientific investigator with Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Dr. Jarvis uses song-learning birds and other species as models to study the molecular and genetic mechanisms that underlie vocal learning, including how humans learn spoken language. He is interested in how their brains, and ours, have evolved to produce this complex behavior. Dr. Jarvis also leads the Vertebrate Genomes project, is a co-PI of the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium and part of the Earth Biogenome Project.

August 6, 2021, 9:00 - 10:30am | Virtual
The Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) open meetings include representatives from NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices and interested members of the public to meet to discuss behavioral and social sciences-relevant topics.
July 20, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Elizabeth A. Howell, MD, MPP

Dr. Howell described the intertwined racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and infant mortality. She introduced a framework that describes the complex web of factors that contribute to these disparities. The model also described pathways linking hospital organization and quality to maternal and infant health disparities. Dr. Howell also shared her team's research findings on quality of care, disparities in severe maternal morbidity and very preterm morbidity and mortality in New York City hospitals. The presentation discussed levers to reduce disparities.

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May 5, 2021, 1:00 - 4:30pm | Virtual

Distinguished Lecturer: Anne Case, Ph.D.
Presentation: Death by degree: U.S. mortality in the 21st century

The 14th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors was held virtually on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm ET. Anne Case, Ph.D., Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University, is the 2021 NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer. Dr. Case is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research; a fellow of the Econometric Society; and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Case’s presentation “Death by degree: U.S. mortality in the 21st century” explored the proximate and underlying causes of poorer health and shorter lives of individuals who have not been to college, and will suggest steps that could be taken to address these disparities.

March 23, 2021, 10:00am | Virtual
Presenter: Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.

This presentation provided an overview of violence prevention among Emergency Department patients including the CDC best practice program SafERteens. Participants will understand the longitudinal outcomes of Emergency Department youth regarding substance use and violence including how to utilize the SAFETY score to predict risk for firearm injury. Review the history of firearm injury prevention research and the capacity building NICHD funded FACTS grant.

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December 2, 2020, 8:00 - 11:00am | Virtual

The festival highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health-related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.

View Day 2 Recording
December 1, 2020, 8:00 - 11:00am | Virtual

The festival highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health-related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.

View Day 1 Recording
June 8, 2020, 9:00am - 12:00pm | Virtual

Distinguished Lecturer: Toni C. Antonucci, Ph.D.
Presentation: Social relations and structural lag: A brave new age

The 13th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors was held on Monday, June 8, 2020, from 9:00 am to noon ET, via WebEx. Toni Antonucci, Ph.D., psychology professor and program director at the University of Michigan, is the 2020 distinguished lecturer and will present: Social Relations and Structural Lag: A Brave New Age. Dr. Antonucci’s research has improved our understanding of how social relations and networks impact health across the lifespan and particularly how social relations influence one’s ability to manage life’s challenges – a particularly timely research area given the pandemic challenges in the context of constrained social relations.

May 19, 2020, 10:00 - 11:00am | Virtual
Presenter: John Besley, Ph.D.

Dr. Besley studies public opinion about science and scientists' opinions about the public in the context of trying to help science communicators be more strategic. He wants to understand how views about decision-makers and decision processes affect perceptions of science and technology (S&T) with potential health or environmental impacts. This focus includes consideration of both media content about S&T (e.g., newspaper, TV, and web content), as well as S&T-focused face-to-face public engagement activities (e.g., public meetings).

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December 6, 2019, 9:00am - 4:00pm | NIH Campus - Natcher Conference Center (Building 45)

The festival highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.

View Recording
October 4, 2019, 9:00am - 10:30pm | NIH Main Campus Building 50
The Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) open meetings include representatives from NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices and interested members of the public to meet to discuss behavioral and social sciences-relevant topics.
September 24, 2019, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Felicia Hill-Briggs, Ph.D., ABPP

In the era of transformation to value-based care, new accountability is placed on health care delivery systems to provide high quality care that improves the health of populations, improves the patient experience of care, and concurrently reduce costs. Many priority conditions for value-based care have associated lifestyle, behavioral, and/or mental health components that contribute to disease outcomes and costs. To address these factors, there is a growing demand for BSSR interventions that are reliable, effective in achieving desired prevention and management outcomes, acceptable to patients, and flexible for integration directly into health care and population health practice. Despite the volume of effective interventions resulting from BSSR funding, adoption of these interventions into care delivery remains rare.

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June 6, 2019, 8:00am - 12:00pm | NIH Campus, Wilson Hall (Bldg. 1)

Distinguished Lecturer: Mark J. VanLandingham, Ph.D.
Presentation: Culture and Resilience: Insights from the Vietnamese American community in post-Katrina New Orleans

The 12th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors was held on Thursday, June 6, 2019 on the NIH Campus, Wilson Hall (Bldg. 1). Mark J. VanLandingham, Ph.D., Thomas C. Keller Professor, Tulane University, is the 2019 NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer. His research focuses on a wide array of topics related to demography, sociology, and public health. He has led recent major projects focusing on the antecedents and consequences of largescale rural-to-urban migration within Southeast Asia; and acculturation, health, and well-being among Vietnamese immigrants in the United States.

May 14, 2019, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Jeffrey Olgin, M.D.

This presentation provided an overview of the Eureka Research Platform, an NIH-funded resource for conducting research using mobile technology. Dr. Olgin described the resource (including its capabilities), provide a description of ongoing studies using the platform, and share lessons learned and the mechanisms by which the resource can be used for NIH-funded studies.

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March 18, 2019, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Pamela Herd, Ph.D.

The microbiome is now considered our "second genome," with potentially comparable importance to the genome in determining human health. There is, however, a relatively limited understanding of the broader environmental factors, particularly social conditions, that shape variation in human microbial communities. Fulfilling the promise of microbiome research—particularly the microbiome’s potential for modification—will require collaboration between biologists and social and population scientists. For life scientists, the plasticity and adaptiveness of the microbiome calls for an agenda to understand the sensitivity of the microbiome to broader social environments already known to be powerful predictors of morbidity and mortality. For social and population scientists, attention to the microbiome may help elucidate nagging questions as to the underlying biological mechanisms that link social conditions to health. Dr. Herd outlined key substantive and methodological advances that can be made if collaborations between social and population health scientists and life scientists are strategically pursued, as well as provide a recent example of just such a collaboration.

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November 27, 2018, 8:00am - 5:00pm | NIH Campus, Natcher Conference Center (Bldg. 45)

The festival highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.

View Recording
November 13, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Peter Pirolli, Ph.D.

Peter Pirolli, Ph.D., presented an overview of the Fittle+ mHealth systems that have been used to study several evidence-based behavior change interventions. Dr. Pirolli presented models developed in the ACT-R computational cognitive architecture that address individual-level daily achievement of behavioral goals for exercise and eating, and provide a deeper account of the dynamics of self-efficacy, motivation, implementation intentions, and habit formation.

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October 27, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Vitaly Napadow, Ph.D., LAc.

The patient-clinician interaction is central to mind-body therapies, including acupuncture, where psychosocial factors, such as clinician empathy and therapeutic alliance, are the source of key mechanisms of action. While self-report assessments of therapeutic alliance correlate with clinical outcomes, such subjective measures do not reflect objective moment-to-moment dynamics underlying these psychosocial interactions. Importantly, the brain has a mirror neuron circuitry, which supports the ability of an observed experience in another to be experienced as if it were in the self, a function critical for social communication.

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September 18, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D.

Tobacco companies use color on cigarette packaging and labelling to communicate brand imagery, diminish health concerns, and as a replacement for prohibited descriptive words ('light' and 'mild') to make misleading claims about reduced risks. Dr. Glantz analyzed previously secret tobacco industry documents to identify additional ways in which cigarette companies tested and manipulated pack colors to affect consumers' perceptions of the cigarettes' flavor and strength.

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August 20, 2018, 1:00 - 2:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Russell A. Poldrack, Ph.D.

Psychological science has long been focused on the discovery of novel behavioral phenomena and the mechanistic explanation of those phenomena, which has led to a lack of cumulative conceptual progress. Dr. Poldrack argued that the development of ontologies is essential for progress, but that these need to be tied directly to empirical data. He provided an example from the domain of self-regulation, where we have used data-driven ontology development to describe the psychological structure of this domain and characterize its predictive validity with respect to real-world outcomes.

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July 17, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Michael Paasche-Orlow M.D., M.A., M.P.H.

Dr. Paasche-Orlow’s team designed and evaluated a series of interactive Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA) systems. In this session, he described attributes and design features of ECA systems with a focus on the current system as deployed with six content modules (symptoms, exercise, meditation, spiritual needs, advance care planning, and storytelling). He also discussed early experiences with system utilization and the nurse alert workstation.

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June 19, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Greg Siegle, Ph.D., and Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Ph.D.

Greg Siegle, Ph.D., presented on cognitive training to address obstacles to recovery. His talk described neural vulnerabilities that could help to explain the mediocre success rate of traditional behavioral treatments along with initial data suggesting that we can address these features using targeted cognitive training as pre-treatments. These data lead to an augmented conceptualization of precision medicine in which assessment can be used in traditional ways, to direct patients to different treatments or to suggest pre-treatments to turn likely-nonresponders into likely responders to conventional treatments.

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May 31, 2018, 8:00am - 12:00pm | NIH Campus, Wilson Hall (Bldg. 1)

Distinguished Lecturer: Terrie E. Moffitt, Ph.D.
Presentation: A Good Childhood is a Smart Investment

The 11th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors was held on Thursday, May 18, 2018, on the NIH Campus, Wilson Hall (Bldg. 1). Terrie Moffitt, Ph.D., studies how genetic and environmental risks work together to shape the course of abnormal human behaviors and psychiatric disorders. Her particular interest is in antisocial and criminal behavior, but she also studies depression, psychosis, and addiction. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, who completed her clinical hospital training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (1984). Dr. Moffitt is associate director of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which follows 1000 people born in 1972 in New Zealand. As of 2017, she has studied the cohort from birth to age 45 so far. She also co-directs the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, which follows 1100 British families with twins born in 1994-1995. She has studied the twins from birth to age 18 so far.

May 15, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Linda K. Larkey, Ph.D., CRTT

Linda K. Larkey, Ph.D., CRTT, professor in Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation and adjunct faculty with Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, reviewed the broader evidence (from her own work and others’) on Meditative Movement (MM) effects on cancer survivorship, supporting the goals of her research underway in breast cancer survivors. Extended models proposing various biomolecular and neurophysiological markers as mechanisms of effects on physical and emotional symptoms, cognitive function and body composition outcomes were also discussed.

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March 27, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Kenzie A. Cameron, Ph.D., MPH, FACH

Invasive pneumococcal disease remains a leading cause of vaccine-preventable illness in the United States. Although rates of pneumococcal vaccination among non-institutionalized adults age 65 and older have increased substantially in the past 20 years, rates remain well below the target rate of 90% vaccination. In addition, racial disparities in vaccination rates persist. Current vaccination rates among adults age 65 and older are 68%; with rates of 73.1% for non-Hispanic white persons, 55.7% for non-Hispanic black persons, and 44.7% among Hispanic persons. These disparities do not appear to be due to access issues; rather, physician and patient attitudes have been implicated as root causes.

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February 27, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Warren K. Bickel, Ph.D., and Samuel McClure, Ph.D.

The speakers described a translational research program that explores the application of basic behavioral findings on delay discounting, decision science, and the neural underpinnings of these processes to the development of interventions for alcohol & drug abuse, obesity and other behavioral risk factors.

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January 16, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Nancy Schmeider Redeker, Ph.D., RN, FAHA, FAAN, and Lois S. Sadler, Ph.D., RN, FAAN

Healthy sleep habits and resulting sleep quality and quantity are critical to children’s growth and development. Children who live in economically stressed urban environments are especially vulnerable to unhealthy sleep habits and their negative consequences, but families’ perceptions about sleep and sleep habits and preferences regarding support for promoting healthy sleep habits are not known and interventions are urgently needed to promote healthy sleep habits and address individual, family, cultural and social factors that contribute to poor sleep habits and sleep difficulty among young children who live in economically stressed urban environments.

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December 8, 2017, 8:30 - 9:30am | Natcher Conference Center (Bldg. 45)

The festival highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.

View Recording
November 28, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Tamara Somers, Ph.D.

Pain is one of the most common and distressing symptoms for patients with cancer. There is evidence that behavioral pain interventions are efficacious for decreasing pain and pain-related symptoms. The NIH recommends the integration of behavioral pain interventions into cancer care. Yet, these interventions remain poorly translated into clinical cancer care. Two factors impacting poor implementation are persistent intervention access barriers and lack of intervention optimization. This presentation will focus on strategies for increasing behavioral pain intervention access and optimization.

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September 26, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Eric Turkheimer, Ph.D.

It has been known for some time that children raised in impoverished environments do not express genetic differences in cognitive ability to the same extent as children raised in middle class homes, a phenomenon known as the Scarr-Rowe interaction. During this webinar, Dr. Turkheimer will summarize what is known about this phenomenon, focusing on new analyses of some classic twin datasets that have not previously been available.

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June 20, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Melissa Anderson, Ph.D.

The U.S. Deaf community – a minority group of 500,000 people who use American Sign Language – is one of the most understudied populations in biomedical research. This work lays the foundation for a sustainable program of research that shifts how we approach and engage the Deaf community, increasing the number of Deaf people who participate in biomedical research studies and encouraging more Deaf people to become actively engaged in the research world.

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May 16, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Henry Yin, Ph.D.

Recent advances in neuroscience led to the development of a new integrative approach combining continuous quantification of behavior and selective manipulation and recording of neural activity in freely moving rodents. Recent work using this approach in my lab has yielded new insights on the relationship between neural activity and behavior.

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April 25, 2017, 8:00 - 9:00am | NIH Campus, Wilson Hall (Bldg. 1)

Distinguished Lecturer: Mark Hayward, Ph.D.
Presentation: Reimagining the Dynamic Association between Education and US Adult Mortality in a Fast Changing Policy Environment

The 10th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors was held on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, on the NIH Campus, Wilson Hall (Bldg. 1). Mark Hayward, Ph.D, is the 2017 NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer. Dr. Hayward is the Professor of Sociology, Centennial Commission Professor in the Liberal Arts, and director of the Population Health Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin. His research integrates life course theory and statistical and demographic techniques to interrogate how factors from across the life course influence morbidity and mortality. Beyond extensive research on mortality, his work has examined a variety of aspects of health—including inflammation, cognitive impairment, disability, self-rated health and positive aspects of health including active life expectancy.

April 18, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Jim Spilsbury Ph.D., MPH

Health disparities are a major public health issue, and disparities in sleep quantity and quality have been well documented among disadvantaged populations. Our data from Cleveland, OH indicate that the age range of 11-12 years is a crucial period when substantial differences in sleep duration and timing emerge between African-American and White children. Based on our research and other investigations, the causes of this disparity likely involve a constellation of factors in the social environment.

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March 16, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Richard G. Frank, Ph.D.

This research addresses issues shaping the future of care for mental illnesses and substance use disorders, including ensuring quality of care in a system that “pays for value” and early intervention for serious mental illnesses.

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February 21, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Sara Moorman, Ph.D.

This project proposes that the age composition of neighborhoods is a key contributor to health and well-being in mid- and later life. This hypothesis is suggested in part by the increasing popularity of age-restricted retirement communities, which pose an interesting puzzle for the predictions of classic social scientific theories. Sociological theorists such as Matilda White Riley suggested that age segregation is detrimental to older persons’ productivity and social integration.

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January 24, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Arturo Hernandez, Ph.D.

What factors affect the coding of two languages in one brain? For over 100 years, researchers have suggested that age of acquisition, language proficiency and cognitive control play a role in the neural representation of two languages. Work in the Laboratory for the Neural Bases of Bilingualism at the University of Houston has looked at the effects of all three factors on brain activity in bilinguals.

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December 2, 2016, 8:30 - 9:30am | Natcher Conference Center (Building 45)

The festival highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.

View Recording
November 16, 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Santosh Kumar, Ph.D.

For long-lasting research utility, biomedical studies often archive biospecimens in biobanks so that they can be reprocessed to take advantage of future improvements in assays and support biomedical discoveries not possible at the time of data collection. mHealth studies, on the other hand, usually collect digital biomarkers (e.g., activity counts) that are specific to the computational models adopted by respective vendors at the time of data collection.

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September 29, 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm | Virtual
Presenter: Michael Hecht, Ph.D.

This webinar discusses the process of taking evidence-based practices to scale through a collaborative process that (1) includes the target audience in conceptualization and formative research that guides the design and delivery of the program, and (2) engages partners (e.g., schools, community organizations) who are key to program implementation and dissemination.

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