NBBTP/IRTA Current Fellows and Alumni

The mission of the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP)/Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship is to prepare biosafety and biocontainment professionals of the highest caliber to meet the needs of the biomedical, emerging disease and civilian biodefense research communities through the 21st century.

Each December, a select number of NBBTP/IRTA Fellows, trained specifically to support high containment research environments begin work as biosafety professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the scientific, regulatory, biocontainment, biosafety, engineering, communications, management, and public relations challenges associated with the conduct of research in these facilities.

Current NBBTP/IRTA Fellows

Faith C. Blum, Ph.D.

Dr. Blum earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Wisconsin Lutheran College, and a doctorate in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she focused on the entry of tetanus neurotoxin into neurons. She continued to a postdoctoral fellowship at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Her research there included the susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to phytotherapeutics and the skin microbiome in military congregate settings. Dr. Blum undertook leadership roles by mentoring graduate and undergraduate student researchers, teaching laboratory sections and guided discussions of graduate-level courses, and serving on the Postdoctoral Association Board. She has presented her research at multiple national scientific conferences and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr. Blum developed an interest in biosecurity while in graduate school, where her lab worked with the Tier 1 select toxin botulinum neurotoxins. Dr. Blum intends to complement her microbiology research experience with training from the NBBTP fellowship in order to strengthen national and global health security.

Michelle Frondelli, M.S.

Michelle Frondelli earned her Ph.D. (New Jersey Medical School/Rutgers University), M.S. (New Jersey Institute of Technology), and B.S. (Rutgers University) in Biomedical Engineering. As a doctoral student, her research focused in pediatric neuroscience and her studies aimed to manipulate stem cells to promote regenerative repair following pediatric traumatic brain injury. During her graduate work, she engaged in multiple student activities including mentoring junior graduate students, serving as treasurer for the Graduate Student Association, volunteering on a clinical trial focused in reproductive health and shadowing a biosafety professional as part of the NIH iJobs training program. Prior to her doctoral work, she held several engineering positions in industry while working towards her M.S., which focused in biostatistics. Dr. Frondelli’s goal is to complement her engineering research background with the NBBTP program to encourage innovative problem solving in response to domestic and international biosafety and health related issues.

Katlyn Montalbano

Katlyn graduated from the University of Florida with both an M.P.H. in Epidemiology and a B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Sciences, with an additional minor in Bioinformatics. Her time at the University of Florida was focused on infectious disease, with international research opportunities studying cholera and mosquito-borne diseases in Haiti, studies on hospital disinfection protocol as it related to infection prevention, and comparative research on risk factors associated with sexually transmitted infections. Prior to coming to the NBBTP, Katlyn worked as a multi-county infectious disease epidemiologist at the Florida Department of Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. There, she managed a team of contact tracers and conducted a diverse set of outbreak investigations. Katlyn looks forward to blending her knowledge of public health with biosafety, with hopes to enter the field of national security following her completion of the NBBTP.

 

Michiyori Wakabayashi

Michiyori Wakabayashi graduated with a B.S. Cum Laude in Biology from the New York Institute of Technology. He worked on a series of research projects at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center including the relationship between Endothelin-1 and peripheral venous congestion and examining how hypertension can factor into adverse outcomes for patients during Continuous Flow - Left Ventricular Assist Device support. While earning his B.S. and prior to coming to the NBBTP, Michiyori worked in the field of Optometry as a General Manager and Laboratory Manager where he specialized in the production and fitting of custom high diopter ophthalmic lenses along with developing and enforcing Laboratory Safety Protocols, Good Manufacturing Practices, and Standard Operating Procedures.

Past Fellows

Haley L. DeMers, Ph.D.

Biosafety Laboratory Manager
Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, MT

Haley L. DeMers earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of California, Davis, and her doctorate in Cell and Molecular Biology with an emphasis on Microbiology from the University of Nevada, Reno. As a doctoral student, her research focused on the development of an antibody-based rapid diagnostic for Ebola virus and characterization of the capsular polysaccharide of Burkholderia pseudomallei as a diagnostic biomarker of melioidosis. Haley has continued her service to NIH as Biosafety Laboratory Manager at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT.

Kenneth Shenge, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.B.P. (A.B.S.A.)

Deputy Biosecurity Manager
USAMRIID, Ft. Detrick, Frederick, MD

Kenneth Shenge earned his Bachelor of Agriculture degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria and his doctorate in Molecular Plant Pathology from the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania on a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship. During his doctorate research, he focused on resistance mechanisms in tomato to bacterial spot and bacterial speck, pathogen-host interactions in the pathosystems, and epidemiology of the tomato diseases in Tanzania. Dr. Shenge’s interest in understanding the intersection of food safety, agriculture, and public health led to pursuit of a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Arizona with a focus on Applied Epidemiology. Ken is now Deputy Biosecurity Manager at USAMRIID at Ft. Deitrick in Frederick, MD.

Andrea R. Vogel, Ph.D.

Safety and Health Specialist III
Duke University Health System, Durham, NC

Andrea R. Vogel earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a Master of Science in Biological Sciences from Binghamton University. She earned a doctorate in Genetics from North Carolina State University where she used prairie voles as a model system for spectrum disorders such as autism. Her research included aspects of behavior, genetics, and neurobiology, centering around the vasopressin 1a receptor in the ventral pallidum and retrosplenial cortex. Andrea is now Safety and Health Specialist III for the Duke University Health System in Durham, NC.

Jennifer Diethelm, M.P.H.

Assistant Biosafety Officer
University of California-Berkley

Jennifer Diethelm is currently an Assistant Biosafety Officer at the University of California Berkeley. Jennifer earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Allegheny College during which time she coordinated disease ecology research and completed an undergraduate thesis on the treatment of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infected amphibians. She also had the privilege of presenting these findings at the Penn State Behrend-Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Conference. Diethelm then earned her Master’s in Public Health from the University of California Davis where she researched pesticide efficacy among native mosquito species at the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District for her graduate thesis. Jennifer strongly believes in the One Health approach, which is a collaborative effort to integrate the knowledge of numerous professions to find new and holistic approaches to complex issues. As part of this passion, she volunteered to help establish the One Health Bat Rabies Education Team in 2016. Jennifer chose the NBBTP Fellowship training to combine her passions for public health and safe research in pursuit of her biosafety career goals and is excited to be an active member of the biosafety profession.

Zhong Qian, Ph.D.

Consultant, DC-MD-VA

Dr. Qian completed his Bachelors degree in biology with a concentration in environmental microbiology from Zhejiang University and doctoral degree in Genetics with specialty in molecular microbiology from Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. During his Ph.D. study, he was focusing on the regulation mechanism of sugar metabolism in thermophilic bacterium, Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis. He discovered a novel gal operon and revealed the two-component regulation mechanism as well a new glucokinase which is not ATP-dependent. He joined Dr. Sankar Adhya’s laboratory in National Cancer Institute in the US and began work on chromosome structure in E. coli. He characterized a novel role of galactose repressor and discovered a new non-coding RNA, which significantly contributes to DNA condensation in the cell. His research found the DNA-RNA interaction is important for the condensation function of ncRNA in chromosome structure. Dr. Qian received the “Outstanding Young Scientist” award from the Human Proteome Organization and invitations for oral presentation from the American Society for Microbiology. He has published his research data in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and been invited for review articles. Dr. Qian is strongly interested in learning and applying biosafety and biosecurity to promote a safe research environment internationally. After two years’ in the NBBTP Fellowship, now Dr. Qian is consulting in the greater DC-Maryland-Virginia area.

Anthony Gresko, Ph.D.

Biosafety Officer, Rutgers University
Newark, NJ

Dr. Anthony Gresko is currently Biosafety Officer at Rutgers University. Dr. Gresko earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology from Towson University and his doctorate in Infectious Diseases from the University of Georgia. As a recipient of the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award for the NIH, he researched California serogroup bunyaviruses for characterization and vaccine research in mouse and non-human primate models for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. While at UGA, his research focused on virus-host interaction using RNA-interference technology to determine the role of target genes in influenza A virus replication, as well as investigating both the virological and immunological effects of co-infections with influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus. His work revealed an effect and potential role of the chemokine receptor CX3CR1 on influenza a virus replication. He has received multiple travel awards for attending American Society of Virology meetings while also presenting his data during these meetings. Dr. Gresko is interested in utilizing biosafety and biosecurity concepts internationally to create effective measures facilitating research with infectious diseases as well as training and education to promote global health.

Maria M. Landron, Ph.D.

Senior Specialist in Global Health, Association of Public Health Laboratories
Silver Spring, MD

Dr. Maria del Mar Landron Casanova is currently a Senior Specialist in Global Health at the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), where she provides biosafety and biocontainment expertise for building laboratory capacity globally. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, she completed a summer internship in the University of Kentucky Department of Toxicology prior to earning her Masters of Public Health (General Public Health) program at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. Dr. Landron Casanova then returned to the University of Kentucky for her Doctor of Public Health with a concentration in Health Services Management. Multiple practicum opportunities in the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the Puerto Rico Health Department, helped her develop an understanding of public health preparedness systems at both the local and state levels, respectively.  Her mini-grant proposal for the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research Dissertation and Junior Faculty Awards titled, "Assuring the Future of Public Health Systems Research” earned her funding for her dissertation project, “Comparing Public Health Emergency Preparedness Services Across States and Local Agencies”.  Prior to being selected as one of three NBBTP Fellows, Dr. Landron Casanova worked in the private sector for a number of years, growing professionally and expanding her expertise. Dr. Landron Casanova aspires to utilize her skill set as well as her leadership, management, biosafety, biocontainment, public health and customer service experience to promote the well-being of people and the environment world-wide. 

Eric Lewis, Ph.D.

Biosafety Officer and Senior Safety Specialist, Merck & Co., Inc.
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Lewis is currently a Biosafety Officer and Senior Safety Specialist within Merck & Co., Inc. Dr. Lewis earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Biology from the University of Florida. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. As a doctoral student he identified and characterized a fibronectin-binding protein expressed by the tick-borne relapsing fever agent Borrelia hermsii in the blood of experimentally infected mice. As a doctoral student, he also served in multiple leadership roles, including being a teaching assistant for multiple biological science lectures and laboratory classes as well as being a councilmember on the campus Advisory Council on Diversity. After he completed his doctoral studies, Dr. Lewis moved to Flagstaff, AZ to perform postdoctoral research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) North and Northern Arizona University (NAU). During his time at TGen North and NAU he characterized the early host innate immune response to pulmonary coccidioidomycosis in a murine model of disease. He performed a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he examined mammalian host immune responses to Burkholderia pseudomallei, B. mallei, and the B. cepacia complex. Dr. Lewis has presented his research at several national scientific meetings and published in multiple peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Enitra N. Jones, Ph.D.

Biological Safety Manager, Louisiana State University and A&M College
Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Enitra N. Jones earned a Bachelor of Science degree (cum laude honors) in Biology with a Microbiology concentration within the Honors College of Southern University and A&M College of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As one of the first recipients of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bacterial Pathogenesis Training Grant at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), she earned her doctorate in Microbial Pathogenesis, Immunology, and Inflammation while investigating determinants of chlamydial-induced urogenital tract complications.  Prior to her acceptance into the NBBTP, Dr. Jones was an Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) postdoctoral fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Her work focused on the development and optimization of adjunct therapies that may be effective against influenza-induced inflammation and the subsequent morbidity associated with pathogenic strains of influenza viruses. Dr. Jones has also found ways to integrate her love of science with her passion for community outreach. In 2013, she was awarded the Light of Hope Award by the City of Memphis and the Shelby County Health Department for the conception, development, and implementation of communicable disease initiatives for inner-city youth. She was awarded the “Outstanding Graduate Student” award by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and inducted into the Imhotep Honors Society for Leadership and Service. Dr. Jones has also been the recipient of numerous scientific research awards and honors.

Julianne L. Baron, Ph.D., C.P.H., R.B.P.

President, Science and Safety Consulting
Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Julianne L. Baron is currently the President and Owner of Science and Safety Consulting, a woman-owned small business with specialized expertise in biosafety, biorisk management, emergency preparedness and planning, and scientific communication. Prior to this, she has served as the Vice President of Research & Development and Regulatory Affairs at Special Pathogens Laboratory and the Biosafety Program Manager for Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She has supported research laboratories (including high containment and select agent labs), developed and provided biosafety training, processed IBC registrations, audited laboratory safety, managed laboratory R&D and client research projects, liaised with regulatory and legislative stakeholders, and created pandemic preparedness plans. Dr. Baron was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP) where she completed biosafety projects with the American Society for Microbiology’s Small World Initiative, NIH’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Colorado State University, and The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. She earned her Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology from the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh where she studied Legionella species (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease) and other waterborne pathogens by developing molecular diagnostic test methods and the microbial ecology of hot water using next generation sequencing. Dr. Baron has presented her research at several conferences including the 8th International Conference on Legionella in Melbourne, Australia and has published in multiple peer-reviewed journals. She is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient and has won several Best Poster Awards. Dr. Baron has also completed research projects studying Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) immunology, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) pathology, Limnology, HIV genetics and SNP analysis, HIV-associated dementia pathogenesis, and dendritic cell immunology. She earned her BS at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and graduated cum laude with a major in Biology and minors in Spanish and Anthropology.

David Martinson, Ph.D.

Senior Program Manager, Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate
Washington, DC

Dr. Martinson received his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Grand Valley State University, and his doctorate in Microbiology and Immunology from East Carolina University. His doctoral work focused on characterizing iron responsive transcriptional regulation in the zoonotic bacterial pathogen Brucella abortus.  He developed a model describing how the Brucella transcriptional regulators Irr and RirA sense and respond to cellular iron levels and how this mechanism contributes to bacterial survival and pathogenesis in the host. He received multiple awards for the presentation of his data at conferences and was the recipient of a student travel award to attend an American Society for Microbiology General Meeting. While at East Carolina University he served in numerous leadership roles including: Graduate Student Body President, President and Treasurer of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and President of the Brody School of Medicine Doctoral Students Association.

Hongliang Yang, Ph.D.

Containment Manager & Biosafety Officer, Methodist Hospital Research Institute
Houston, TX

Dr. Yang is currently the Containment Manager & Biosafety Officer at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston Texas. Prior to taking the position at Houston Methodist, Dr. Yang was a fellow in the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. During the fellowship, Dr. Yang produced Biosafety Manual for The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI Janelia Campus), developed BSL-2 Laboratories Accreditation Program at Northwestern University, and accomplished the applied biosafety project in BSL-3 laboratory at Yale University. Dr. Yang earned his MS in Pathology and Ph.D. in Microbiology at Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU), School of Medicine. He also earned BS in Medical Technology at Zhengzhou University, China. Dr. Yang worked in a clinical laboratory as a medical technologist. During his doctoral work, Dr. Yang investigated the pathogenesis of leptospirosis and discovered that thrombocytopenia in the experimental leptospirosis of guinea pig is not related to disseminated intravascular coagulation. He also identified vaccine candidates against leptospirosis using reverse vaccinology. Dr. Yang did postdoctoral research in the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories at Colorado State University, where he investigated the molecular mechanisms of purified protein derivative (PPD) inducing delayed-type hypersensitivity response, and discovered several cocktails containing defined proteins were able to mimic the PPD response at the molecular level. Dr. Yang also made recombinant proteins using bioreactor for the Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Research Resources Repository. Dr. Yang has over 40 publications in journals and books. He has also served as a reviewer for over 15 peer-reviewed journals and is an editorial board member for the Chinese Journal of Zoonoses.

Chad Austin, Ph.D., S.M. (N.R.C.M.), C.B.S.P. (A.B.S.A)

Training Program Coordinator, Biorisk Management, USDA National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility
Manhattan, KS

Dr. Austin is currently the Training Program Coordinator for the Biorisk Management (BRM) program at the USDA’s National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. During the construction preparatory period, he assisted BRM with planning and other stand-up activities including design and development of the biorisk training program at NBAF. Prior to NBAF, Chad worked for the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) in Houston Texas as a Biosafety Specialist and an Instructor for the UTHealth School of Public Health. Chad completed the NBBTP Fellowship in 2015 and his doctorate in microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2014. Chad is also active with ABSA International where has been a member since 2014. He has held ABSA’s Certified Biosafety Profession (CBSP) credential since 2018. Chad is currently most interested in facilitating the safe practice of basic and applied biomedical, agricultural, and microbiological scientific activities by providing training and expertise in best safety practices and regulatory oversight requirements.

Cristine Campos Lawson, Ph.D, R.B.P., C.B.S.P. (A.B.S.A)

Deputy Director for Biosecurity, Department of Defense
Frederick, MD
Member, NBBTP Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Lawson is currently the Deputy Director for Biosecurity for the Department of Defense (DoD). She is responsible for all DoD BSAT Biorisk Program oversight activities, and is the Biological Select Agent and Toxins (BSAT) Executive Agent (EA) senior biosecurity advisor, responsible for all biosecurity functions pursuant to regulation; biosecurity planning, coordination, oversight and overlap areas of concern with biosafety. Dr. Lawson is a member of the Editorial Review Board for Applied Biosafety: Journal of ABSA International, as well as, a member of ABSA Scientific Program Committee and Biosecurity Task Force. Dr. Lawson received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a graduate student, she received funding from the Pacific Southwest Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases to focus her research on the role of autotransporter proteins in Burkholderia pseudomallei pathogenesis. She has published in multiple peer-reviewed journals, as well as presented her research at several national and international meetings. Dr. Lawson previously earned her Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology, summa cum laude, with a minor in Chemistry from California State University Channel Island.

 

Dr. Lawson also currently serves as a Member of the NBBTP Scientific Advisory Board. The Board Members assist with advising on program decisions as well as mentoring individual Fellows through the program.

Brandon Hatcher, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, Office of Laboratory Safety, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA

Dr. Brandon Hatcher received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). During his doctoral work he identified that sialic acid, a naturally occurring terminal carbohydrate ubiquitously expressed in the nasopharynx, could be used to stimulate Streptococcus pneumoniae to nonhematogenously invade the central nervous system. This helped provide evidence for an alternate route that bacteria can use to cause meningitis. While at UAB he served in numerous leadership roles including: senator for the Graduate Student Association, president/member of several student organizations, and officer/founder for UAB toastmasters club. Before UAB he completed a post-baccalaureate training in Molecular Virology at the University of Chicago. There he studied Human Papilloma Virus oncoproteins E6 /E7 and their interaction with human regulatory protein CYLD during infection. Prior to that he was a contracted Observer for the North Pacific Groundfish Program, in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Chelsea Schiano, Ph.D.

High-Containment Facility Officer and Responsible Official
University of California-Davis

Dr. Schiano is the High-Containment Facility Officer and Alternate Responsible Official at UC Davis. In this position she oversees annual testing and re-verification of all BSL-3 laboratories, SOP development, waste management, incident response drills, containment facility design, and more for a very diverse high-containment research portfolio. In 2014 she earned a Ph.D. from the Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, Illinois. Chelsea's graduate research focused on posttranscriptional mechanisms of regulation in Yersinia species, specifically regulation of the type III secretion system. Her thesis project involved working in high-containment with mouse models of bubonic and pneumonic Plague. During her time at Northwestern, Chelsea presented her work at the International Symposium on Yersinia in Recife, Brazil, as well as at several other meetings. She was also a TA for the Advanced Microbial Pathogenesis course and attended the GLRCE Biosafety Training Program. Her work has been published in PNAS, Journal of Bacteriology, Infection and Immunity, and Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. Chelsea began her education at SUNY Geneseo, and graduated magna cum laude with a major in Biochemistry in 2007.  

Sabena Blakeney, Ph.D.

Blakeney Consulting, LLC
New Orleans, LA

Dr. Blakeney owns her own consulting firm specializing rDNA registrations and animal study protocols, laboratory audits, incident investigations and training. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Tulane University School of Medicine and Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from University of Maryland.  As a graduate student, Dr. Blakeney received Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund to focus her research on the development of subunit vaccines against biodefense relevant pathogens that cause anthrax and plague. Following graduation, Dr. Blakeney spent four years as a visiting scientist at Plum Island Animal Disease Center where she conducted research on pathogenesis and development of improved vaccines and diagnostics against foot-and-mouth disease.  She has presented her research at professional societies and published in multiple peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Blakeney is interested in high-risk pathogens that are relevant to biodefense and agro-defense.

Althea Capul Treacy, Ph.D.

Associate Biosafety Officer, Division of Occupational Health and Safety, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

Dr. Treacy is an Associate Biosafety Officer in the Division of Occupational Health and Safety at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD.  Her current duties include biosafety evaluation, review of biological import and export requests, biospecimen stewardship, and training for high/maximum containment researchers.  Dr. Treacy earned her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in the Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis program and her Bachelor of Science with High Honors in Microbiology from the University of Michigan. During her doctoral work she refined how UDP-galactose transport affects the parasite life cycle and disease pathogenesis in the protozoan Leishmania major. Dr. Treacy conducted postdoctoral research at The Scripps Research Institute where she described interactions between specific arenaviral proteins and developed a rapid assay to measure viral budding from cells. She then worked at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she used reverse genetic tools to examine roles for the arenaviral matrix protein in viral RNA synthesis and infection, mentored student researchers, and organized the opening of a BSL-3 laboratory. While at UCI she also taught undergraduate courses in microbiology, AIDS fundamentals, and biochemistry.  She was most recently a Biosurety/Biosafety Program Manager at the NIH.

Sarah Ziegler, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, USDA National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility
Manhattan, KS

Dr. Ziegler is the Deputy Director, USDA National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Prior to her current position she served as the Corporate Biosafety Officer for Southern Research Institute. Previously, she worked as an Associate Biosafety Officer for UCLA. Sarah Ziegler earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch, researching alphavirus pathogenesis in the laboratory of Robert Tesh, M.D. She earned her M.S. and B.S. at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Biochemistry, studying the effects of photodynamic therapy in breast cancer cell lines. As a student, she received the Robert Shope Ph.D. Endowed Fellowship, a Sealy Center for Vaccine Development Fellowship and the Ann and John Hamilton Endowed Scholarship. She was involved with many groups at UTMB, including the Presidential Scholars Steering Committee, Senior Co-Director of the National Student Research Program and Co-President of the Experimental Pathology Graduate Student Organization. As a postdoctoral fellow, she worked in a high containment laboratory studying Rift Valley Fever virus transmission in mosquitoes. After her post-doctoral fellowship, she was employed with the National Biosafety Training Program as a Senior Laboratory Biosafety Training Specialist at the Galveston National Laboratory.

Sara A. Cope

Assistant Biosafety Officer and Alternate Responsible Official, Colorado State University
Ft. Collins, CO

Sara Cope works as an Assistant Biosafety Officer and an Alternate Responsible Official for Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO. Sara began her doctoral studies in Molecular Biology at the University of North Texas (UNT), focusing her research on virulence in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and how pyrimidine auxotrophy can decrease such virulence. Ms. Cope earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from UNT, during which time she gained a great interest in Microbiology. While at UNT, Ms. Cope was awarded the Beth Baird Scholarship and served as the founding vice-president for the Society for Microbiology at UNT. During her time at UNT, Ms. Cope was a pollen counter for Family Allergy and Asthma Care, certified by the National Allergy Bureau and American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. As a graduate teaching assistant, Ms. Cope taught both Microbiology and Medical Bacteriology Lab courses throughout her graduate career and served as the Microbiology instructor and mentor for the Upward Bound Math and Science summer program for high school students interested in the science disciplines.

Jarrad Marles, Ph.D.

Science Program Manager – CWMD, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
New Alexandria, VA

Dr. Marles is a Science Program Manager CWMD with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Prior to this assignment he served as a Regional Science Manager for the DoD Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP). The focus of the program is to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons by providing partner nation governments with education and training to improve laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological safety and security, particularly in regards to especially dangerous pathogens and related materials. In addition, CBEP provides partner nations with research funding and assists with the enhancement of their detection, diagnostic, and reporting capabilities to improve national, regional, and global public health security. Prior to joining the NBBTP, Dr. Marles received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Dartmouth College. He previously earned his Associate of Science from Lorain County Community College (Ohio) and his Bachelor of Science with honors from the University of Akron. Dr. Marles is also a proud U.S. Army veteran having served as a paratrooper with the elite 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC.

Meghan Seltzer, Ph.D.

Lead Technical Assessor/Evaluator, MITRE
Washington, DC – Baltimore, MD

Dr. Seltzer is a Lead Technical Assessor/Evaluator at The MITRE Corporation, where she serves as a biosafety and biosecurity subject matter expert in support of U.S. Government sponsors. Before joining MITRE, she was a Manager in the Safety, Health, and Security Department at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus.  During her work with Janelia Research Campus she managed the biological safety, occupational health, and training programs and was the chair of the Janelia Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.  She previously served as the Chemical Hygiene Officer. Dr. Seltzer is a member of ABSA International and the Chesapeake Area Biological Safety Association and has served on the executive board of both organizations.  Prior to entering the NBBTP program, she earned her doctorate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from The Pennsylvania State University. 

Thomas Cremer, Ph.D.

Centers for Disease Control
Atlanta, GA

Dr. Cremer currently works for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure compliance with the federal select agent regulations, 42 CFR 73. Previous to that he served as the onsite RBL Biosafety Officer to support BSL-3 and ABSL-3 operations at the University of Louisville's Regional Biocontainment Laboratory. Additionally he was designated as an Alternate Responsible Official (ARO) and later the Responsible Official (RO) for the University. Dr. Cremer has been actively involved with the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) though being a past presenter and pre-conference instructor at the annual conference. Prior to joining the NBBTP Dr. Cremer received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology interdisciplinary graduate program where he authored 12 peer-reviewed publications on the immune response to bacterial pathogens, including select agents. During that time he was awarded a NIAID T32 training grant and multiple research conference awards. He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Toledo - one in Toxicology with a minor in Chemistry, the other in Criminal Justice with a minor in Forensic Science Investigation.

Marisa (Hickey) Newcomer, D.V.M., M.P.H.

Safety and Occupational Health Manager, Food and Drug Administration
White Oak, MD

Prior to becoming the Safety and Occupational Health Manager, Dr. Newcomer was Biosafety Manager for the Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research at FDA. She previously managed the Biosurety Training Program at the National Institutes of Health, developing and conducting high containment and Select Agent training for researchers, animal care takers, security and emergency responders, occupational medical personnel and facilities personnel.  Prior to her time at NIH, she completed her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Illinois.  Dr. Newcomer worked at the Lincoln Park Zoo, assisting the veterinary epidemiologist with a disaster preparedness manual for zoological institutions, and she continued this effort with the first ever table top exercise dealing with an avian influenza flu outbreak in Midwestern zoo populations.  She continues to enjoy public health outreach and education and is dedicated to the one health initiative to promote health care for humans, animals and the environment.

Antony Schwartz, Ph.D.

Director of Biological Safety, Duke University
Durham, NC

Dr. Antony Schwartz is currently the Director of Biological Safety at Duke University. The Biological Safety Division is responsible for the Duke Hospital, Health System, Medical Center and the University. Programs managed by the Division include the Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan, the Tuberculosis Exposure Control Plan, and the Environment of Care for the Duke University Hospitals and Clinics. Dr. Schwartz also serves as the Biosafety Officer managing the Duke Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and as the Responsible Official for the Duke Select Agent Program. Previously he worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and served as the Responsible Official for the NIH Select Agent Program. Prior to that, he worked for ProSource Consulting, Inc. as the Associate Biosafety Officer for the NIH, an Alternate Responsible Official (ARO), and manager of the day-to-day facility maintenance activities of the maximum-containment BSL4 training laboratory on the NIH Bethesda campus. Dr. Schwartz entered the NBBTP Fellowship immediately after he received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, Dr. Schwartz also obtained a minor in Technology Commercialization. He leveraged this minor by participating in numerous small business ventures including the co-founding of a successful niche marketing, branding and web-design company. As a graduate teaching assistant, he has had the opportunity to engage and further the learning experience of students from different disciplines through his courses. Dr. Schwartz has served as the president and vice-president for the Graduate Student Forum in his department and was the department representative for the Southern Miss Graduate Student Senate. Dr. Schwartz is an alumnus of Jackson State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology (honors) and minors in chemistry and broadcast journalism.

Dave Harbourt, Ph.D., R.B.P.

Safety and Occupational Health Manager, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration
White Oak, MD

Dr. Harbourt currently serves as the Safety and Occupational Health Manager, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration. Prior to this assignment he worked as the Biosafety Officer at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He also previously worked for ProSource Consulting, managing the maximum containment laboratory training center on the NIH-Bethesda campus. Prior to the NBBTP, Dr. Harbourt received his Ph.D. from the Curriculum in Toxicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. His research was focused on using quantitative proteomics to evaluate expression of drug metabolizing enzymes and membrane transporters in relation to gastrointestinal toxicity in rats. During his time as a graduate student, Dr. Harbourt was a Teaching Assistant in the Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy course for the Department of Biology. The lab focused primarily on dissections and hands-on analysis of a series of marine and terrestrial specimens to compare structures and functions of organ and skeletal systems. Before his matriculation into UNC, Dr. Harbourt received his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry at Virginia Tech in 2005. While at Virginia Tech, he also worked as a Lab Assistant within the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science.

LT. Marcienne Wright, Ph.D.

Lead Health Scientist/Team Lead, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Atlanta, GA

Dr. Marcienne (Marci) Wright is a Lieutenant in the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and works as a Health Scientist for the ASPR Office of Policy and Planning, Division of Biosafety and Biosecurity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She previously worked in this office as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, conducting program analysis. Dr. Wright serves on the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus institutional biosafety committee and holds an adjunct faculty appointment at Bard College, where she develops and teaches biosafety and biosecurity outreach curricula for first year students. Prior to joining NBBTP, Dr. Wright served as a laboratory manager at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and completed a Ph.D. program in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. In addition to her graduate research, Dr. Wright contributed to multiple science education policy initiatives at UAB and nationally. Dr. Wright received her Bachelor of Arts in biology from Williams College and her Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry and molecular genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Rebecca Lingenfelter

Associate Biosafety Officer at University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Prior to becoming the Associate Biosafety Officer, Ms. Lingenfelter worked for the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, an independent, non-profit organization focusing on mammalian genetics research to advance human health. Their mission is to "discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human disease and to enable research for the global biomedical community." Ms. Lingenfelter obtained her Bachelor of Science in genetics from Texas A&M University in 2000 and a Master in Science in Public Health in 2002 from the School of Rural Public Health at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. As part of her master's research, she studied the ability of several microbial assays to estimate the genotoxicity of three model polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Ms. Lingenfelter continued studying PAHs for her dissertation work in the toxicology program at Texas A&M, which involved studying human environmental exposures to PAHs. In addition to research responsibilities, she worked as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate class in food toxicology and food safety and assisted with instruction in a graduate lab in an environmental sampling methods class.

Vivian Smith, M.S., S.M. (N.R.C.M.)

Principal Research Scientist, Batelle
Columbus, OH

Vivian Smith attended Alcorn State University until 2008 when she graduated with a B.S. in Biology. At only 21, she was accepted into a one-of-a-kind fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda Maryland, the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP). She was the only undergraduate student to be accepted into the program. During her tenure, she independently directed the operations of the NIH high and maximum biocontainment laboratories. She developed hundreds of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for various biocontainment laboratories throughout the United States, assisted in biosafety level (BSL)-3 and BSL-4 program development, conducted risk assessments and performed program gap analyses focusing on biodefense and biosecurity related issues.

After successfully completing her tenure in the NBBTP, she was accepted into the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Master in Biotechnology program with a concentration in Biodefense. While working on her graduate degree, she worked full time at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland under the leadership of the world-renowned scientist, Dr. John Craig Venter – one of scientists who worked on the international collaboration to sequence the human genome. After completing her graduate degree at JHU, Vivian accepted a position at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) in New York City as the BSL-3 Facility Manager for the Belfer Research Building. She was responsible for all aspect of program development for the BSL-3 and animal BSL-3 research laboratories.

In October 2016, Vivian continued her career with Battelle Memorial Institute working for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Biological Threat Reduction Integrating Contract (BTRIC) under the prime contractor CH2MHILL/Jacobs Engineering.  DTRA’s mission is to reduce the threat to the U.S. and global health security from the spread of pathogens of security concern through cooperative international research partnerships. Vivian was deployed to a remote region of Kazakhstan for an 18-month assignment to serve as a Biosafety and Biosecurity (BS&S) SME aiding a high containment BSL-3 laboratory on a remote Kazakh military installation. Since September 2017, Vivian has been working with DTRA, Jacobs Engineering, and the Vietnam Ministry of Health and Department of Animal Health to help bring safer scientific practices to the country of Vietnam. Vivian has provided biosafety and biosecurity practical and academic skills to more than 100 Vietnamese researchers, laboratory technicians, Biosafety Officers, Regional Directors and Vice Directors. She has traveled the entire country of Vietnam with the purpose of equipping the various public health research laboratories with the skills to safely and securely prevent and/or respond to a public health crisis.

Her entire career has been devoted to advancing the field of nuclear, biological, and chemical defense. For this effort, she was named the 2018 winner of the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) Industry Group’s Dr. Billy Richardson Award for Young NBC Researchers.

Molly Stitt-Fischer, Ph.D., C.P.H., C.B.S.P.

University Biosafety Officer and Alternate Responsible Official, University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Fischer now serves as a Biosafety Officer for the University of Pittsburgh where she advises the University community on policy and programs necessary to assure the control of biological agents that will ultimately protect faculty, staff, students, the University and the environment. As part of her responsibilities, she serves as an active member of the Institutional Biosafety/rDNA committee, Biohazards Committee, and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; and provides consultation on biological agents, potentially infectious material, recombinant DNA and other potential hazards in the academic and research environment. Dr. Stitt-Fischer received her Ph.D. from the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh in April 2008. She also has a Master of Science in Molecular Toxicology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (February 2002) and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from Allegheny College (May 1999). While pursuing her Ph.D., her research focused on exploring the connections between zinc homeostasis and nitric oxide signaling in the pulmonary endothelium. Prior to that, she worked as a research technician at the University of Pittsburgh examining zinc homeostasis in pulmonary endothelial cells.

Alexis (Them) Brubaker, C.B.S.P., (S.M.), N.R.C.M., M.S.F.S.

Associate University Compliance Officer, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

Ms. Brubaker was promoted to her current position in 2019. As Associate University Compliance Officer, she has launched the new University Compliance Office, and provides oversight of University Policy and Privacy. Prior to her current position, Ms. Brubaker was the University Biosafety Officer for Cornell University in Ithaca, New York beginning in 2014 after serving as the Associate Biological Safety Officer position for two and a half years. She led a team that provided biosafety services from greenhouses to cows to nanotechnology, to classic BSL-2 & BSL-3 research. She has 13 years of experience in biosafety, including time working as a microbiologist in a high containment laboratory and two years as a Fellow in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP). Alexis was the training manager for the biosafety level four (BSL-4) at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Boston University. Alexis has served as chair of the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) Legislative Committee. She was also an appointed member of the ABSA Unified Oversight Response Task Force that was created in response to the CDC and NIH incidents. Alexis is also a member of the University's IACUC and IBC committees.

Marcus G. Hodges, Ph.D.

Director, Intramural Training and Education, Division of Preclinical Innovation, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
Bethesda, MD

Dr. Marcus Hodges is the Director of Intramural Training and Education for the Division of Preclinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Hodges earned a B.S. in Premedical Science from Saint Augustine’s College and earned a Ph.D. in biology from Howard University. Specializing in molecular parasitology, his research focused on characterizing iron regulatory proteins in Plasmodium falciparum. Dr. Hodges then worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the NIAID Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, where he investigated the effects of Ascaris suum pseudocoelomic fluid on allergic asthma models. He later completed a second postdoctoral fellowship with the National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP). Upon completing the NBBTP fellowship, Dr. Hodges worked for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) as a Biosafety & Biosecurity Specialist. He later returned to the NBBTP, where he served as the program’s Fellowship Director for eight years.

LT. Megan (Morgan) Brose

IRF Biosafety Manager, National Institutes of Health
Hamilton, MT

Lieutenant Commander Megan Brose serves in the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and currently works as the IRF Biosafety Manager for the National Institutes of Health in Hamilton, MT.  LCDR Brose earned a Bachelor's of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science and a certificate in Molecular Diagnostic Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Certified Medical Technologist and Clinical Laboratory Specialist in molecular biology. Her previous experience includes supporting the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the Defense Sciences Office for research involving animal and human subjects. She also gained science policy experience at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy, with a focus in biosecurity.

Hao A. Vu

High Containment Operations Manager, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services
Manhattan, KS

Mr. Vu served as the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory Biosafety Officer at the Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, where he worked to support biomedical translational research activities that required the use of high containment facilities at the University of Louisville. He received his M.S. degree in Biodefense from George Mason University in 2006 and his undergraduate degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University in 2003. His interest and experiences with biosafety and biocontainment began when he first started life as a scientist researching and developing vaccines, antibodies, and potential therapeutic strategies for biodefense purposes at AFG Biosolutions, Inc. in Gaithersburg, MD. He joined the NBBTP fellowship in 2008, and freely credits his fellowship mentors and advisors, the great folks at the National Institutes of Health and all their affiliates for the excellent training, great experiences and wonderful friendships he has made during the fellowship and throughout his career. In 2010, he had the privilege of joining the outstanding people who make up the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) at Kansas State University. He worked at the BRI as a Biosafety Specialist supporting their research initiatives to develop viable countermeasures against human, agricultural animal and plant pathogens.

Sherry S. Bohn, Ph.D., M.S.L., C.B.S.P.

Biosafety Officer, University of Maryland
College Park, MD
Chair, NBBTP Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Sherry Bohn is the Biosafety Officer and Responsible Official for the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. She previously served as the Biosafety Officer for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) in Frederick, MD for 6 years. Dr. Bohn earned her doctoral degree at The Catholic University of America in Cell and Microbial Biology.  Her undergraduate work at Marywood University in Scranton, PA, resulted in dual degrees in Biology and Communication Arts, and in 2019, she completed a Masters of Science in Law from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law in Crisis Management and Homeland Security Law.  She is a Past-President of the Chesapeake Area Biological Safety Association (ChABSA) and is currently serving as Secretary for ABSA International. 

Dr. Bohn also currently serves as the Chair of the NBBTP Scientific Advisory Board. The Board Members assist with advising on program decisions as well as mentoring individual Fellows through the program.

John Tonkiss, Ph.D., (S.M.), N.R.C.M., C.B.S.P.

Senior Biosafety Officer, Tufts University
Boston, MA

After completing his NBBTP Fellowship, Dr. Tonkiss worked as Associate Director of Research Safety for the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories (NEIDL) located on the Boston University Medical campus (Boston, MA). After 7 years in that role he became the Senior Biosafety Officer for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University (N. Grafton, MA) and continues to fill that role today. John holds a Doctorate of Medicine in Child Health/Developmental Psychobiology from Manchester University (U.K.) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, with first class honors from Manchester Polytechnic (now called Manchester Metropolitan University). After post-doctoral training at the University of Manchester, the University of Minnesota and Oxford University, Dr. Tonkiss obtained a faculty position at BUMC, becoming Associate Professor of Psychiatry in 1994. At BUMC, Dr. Tonkiss acted as Associate Director of the Center for Behavioral Development and Mental Retardation prior to entering the NBBTP fellowship.

Dr. Tonkiss also previously served as a Member of the NBBTP Scientific Advisory Board.

CDR Thomas Arminio*, U.S.P.H.S., C.B.S.P.

CDR Arminio earned a Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an RN degree from the College of St. Catherine, and a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from Vassar College. Before joining the NBBTP, CDR Arminio was assigned to the Indian Health Service, Office of Environmental Health and Engineering, at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital where he held the position of Safety and Infection Control Manager. Areas of interest in biosafety include applying clinical nursing skills to occupational health and emergency medical management in high containment environments, syndromic surveillance of biological threats and policy development in biosurety issues, with emphasis in internal settings. CDR Arminio served as the IRF-Biosafety Manager at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH's state-of-the-art biomedical research facility in Montana. The Integrated Research Facility (IRF) is the first facility of its kind to house BSL-2, -3 and -4 laboratory space along with offices and conference space, and enables researchers to study priority pathogens in the area of biodefense in the safest and most secure environment possible.

* Deceased

Angela Ragan, M.S., S.M. (N.R.C.M.), C.B.S.P.

Alternate Biological Safety Officer, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Frederick, MD

Ms. Ragan currently serves as the Alternate Biological Safety Officer at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).  After completing the two-year NBBTP Fellowship in December 2007, Ms. Ragan served as the Biosafety Manager and Alternate Responsible Official (ARO) until 2018 at the NIH NIAID Integrated Research Facility.  She has twenty plus years of professional experience in the occupational safety and health field at multi-faceted working environments (private consulting, government, and academia).

Ms. Ragan obtained a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a minor in Geology from Slippery Rock University. In 2011 she completed a Master of Science in Biotechnology with a concentration in Biodefense from Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts of Sciences. During the Fellowship, she obtained the designation of Certified Biosafety Professional (CBSP) and Specialist Microbiologist (SM) by the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists.

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