Honors & Awards

  • Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (2021)
  • STAT Wunderkind, STAT News (2020)
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F30), NIH/NCI (2019)
  • Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation (2017)
  • Bio-X Graduate Student Fellowship, Stanford University (2017)
  • Molecular Imaging Young Investigator Prize Finalist, Stanford University (2017)
  • First Prize, Canary Summit for Early Cancer Detection Poster Competition, Canary Foundation (2016)
  • Frederick E. Terman Award for Scholastic Achievement in Engineering, Stanford University (2014)
  • Welton J. Crook Award, Stanford Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering (2014)
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, Barry M. Goldwater Foundation (2013)
  • Tau Beta Pi Early Inductee, Stanford University (2012)
  • President's Award for Academic Excellence, Stanford University (2011)

Education & Certifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, Bioengineering (2020)
  • Master of Science, Stanford University, Management Science and Engineering (2014)
  • Bachelor of Science, Stanford University, Materials Science and Engineering (2014)


  • Aalipour A, Gambhir SS. "United States Patent Application 62/900,348 (Provisional) Methods of Neoplasm Treatment Utilizing Oncolytic Viruses and CAR T-cells", Leland Stanford Junior University, Sep 13, 2019
  • Aalipour A, Gambhir SS. "United States Patent Application PCT/US2019/019787 Engineered immune cells as diagnostic probes of disease", Leland Stanford Junior University, Licensed by Earli, Inc., Feb 27, 2019
  • Vermesh O, Gambhir SS, Park S, Ge TJ, Aalipour A. "United States Patent US10064653B2 Intravascular magnetic wire for detection, retrieval or elimination of disease-associated biomarkers and toxins", Leland Stanford Junior University, Sep 4, 2018
  • Aalipour A, Gambhir SS. "United States Patent Application 62/473,561 (Provisional) Multiplexed, sequence-specific enrichment of cell-free DNA increases sensitivity of molecular diagnostics", Leland Stanford Junior University, Mar 28, 2017


All Publications

  • Allogeneic Chimeric Antigen receptor-invariant Natural Killer T Cells Exert Both Direct and Indirect Antitumor Effects through Host Cd8 T Cell cross-priming Simonetta, F., Hirai, T., Lohmeyer, J. K., Maas-Bauer, K., Alvarez, M., Wenokur, A. S., Baker, J., Aalipour, A., Haile, S., Mackall, C. L., Negrin, R. S. SPRINGERNATURE. 2020: 259–60
  • PET reporter gene imaging and ganciclovir-mediated ablation of chimeric antigen receptor T-cells in solid tumors. Cancer research Murty, S., Labanieh, L., Murty, T., Gowrishankar, G., Haywood, T., Alam, I. S., Beinat, C., Robinson, E., Aalipour, A., Klysz, D. D., Cochran, J. R., Majzner, R. G., Mackall, C. L., Gambhir, S. S. 2020


    Imaging strategies to monitor chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell biodistribution and proliferation harbor the potential to facilitate clinical translation for the treatment of both liquid and solid tumors. Additionally, the potential adverse effects of CAR T-cells highlight the need for mechanisms to modulate CAR T-cell activity. The herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-tk) gene has previously been translated as a positron emission tomography (PET) reporter gene for imaging of T-cell trafficking in brain tumor patients. The HSV1-TK enzyme can act as a suicide gene of transduced cells through treatment with the prodrug ganciclovir (GCV). Here we report the molecular engineering, imaging, and GCV-mediated destruction of B7H3 CAR T-cells incorporating a mutated version of the HSV1-tk gene (sr39tk) with improved enzymatic activity for GCV. The sr39tk gene did not affect B7H3 CAR T-cell functionality and in vitro and in vivo studies in osteosarcoma models showed no significant effect on B7H3 CAR T-cell antitumor activity. PET/CT imaging with 9-(4-[18F]-fluoro-3-[hydroxymethyl]butyl)guanine [18F]FHBG of B7H3-sr39tk CAR T-cells in an orthotopic model of osteosarcoma revealed tumor homing and systemic immune expansion. Bioluminescence and PET imaging of B7H3-sr39tk CAR T-cells confirmed complete tumor ablation with intraperitoneal GCV administration. This imaging and suicide ablation system can provide insight into CAR T-cell migration and proliferation during clinical trials while serving as a suicide switch to limit potential toxicities.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-3579

    View details for PubMedID 32958548

  • Viral Delivery of CAR Targets to Solid Tumors Enables Effective Cell Therapy. Molecular therapy oncolytics Aalipour, A., Le Boeuf, F., Tang, M., Murty, S., Simonetta, F., Lozano, A. X., Shaffer, T. M., Bell, J. C., Gambhir, S. S. 2020; 17: 232–40


    Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) Tcell therapy has had limited efficacy for solid tumors, largely due to a lack of selectively and highly expressed surface antigens. To avoid reliance on a tumor's endogenous antigens, here we describe a method of tumor-selective delivery of surface antigens using an oncolytic virus to enable a generalizable CAR Tcell therapy. Using CD19 as our proof of concept, we engineered a thymidine kinase-disrupted vaccinia virus to selectively deliver CD19 to malignant cells, and thus demonstrated potentiation of CD19 CAR Tcell activity against two tumor types invitro. In an immunocompetent model of B16 melanoma, this combination markedly delayed tumor growth and improved median survival compared with antigen-mismatched combinations. We also found that CD19 delivery could improve CAR Tcell activity against tumor cells that express low levels of cognate antigen, suggesting a potential application in counteracting antigen-low escape. This approach highlights the potential of engineering tumors for effective adoptive cell therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.omto.2020.03.018

    View details for PubMedID 32346612

  • PET imaging of the natural killer cell activation receptor NKp30. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine Shaffer, T., Gambhir, S. S., Aalipour, A., Schurch, C. 2020


    Redirecting the immune system in cancer treatment has led to remarkable responses in a subset of patients. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells being explored as they engage tumor cells in different mechanisms compared to T cells, which could be exploited for treatment of nonresponders to current immunotherapies. NK cell therapies are monitored through measuring peripheral NK cell concentrations or changes in tumor volume over time. The former does not detect NK cells at the tumor site(s), and the latter is inaccurate for immunotherapies because of pseudoprogression. Therefore, new imaging methods are required as companion diagnostics for optimizing immunotherapies. Methods: Here we develop and complete pre-clinical in vivo validation of two antibody-based PET probes specific for NKp30, an activation natural cytotoxicity receptor expressed by human NK cells. Quantitative, multicolor flow cytometry during a variety of NK cell activation conditions was completed on primary human NK cells and the NK92MI cell line. Human renal cell carcinoma (RCC) tumors were stained for the NK cell receptors CD56, NKp30, and NKp46 to determine expression on tumor-infiltrating NK cells. An NKp30 antibody was radiolabeled with 64Cu or 89Zr and evaluated in subcutaneous xenografts and adoptive cell transfer mouse models. Results: Quantitative flow cytometry showed consistent expression of the NKp30 receptor during different activation conditions. NKp30 and NKp46 costained in RCC samples, demonstrating the expression of these receptors on tumor-infiltrating NK cells in human tumors, while tumor cells in one RCC sample expressed the peripheral NK marker CD56. Both PET tracers showed high stability and specificity in vitro and in vivo. Notably, 89Zr- NKp30Ab had higher on-target contrast compared to 64Cu-NKpAb at their respective terminal time points. 64Cu-NKp30Ab delineated NK cell trafficking to the liver and spleen in an adoptive cell transfer model. Conclusion: The consistent expression of NKp30 on NK cells makes it an attractive target for quantitative imaging. Immunofluorescence staining on human RCC samples demonstrated the advantages of NKp30 targeting versus the traditional CD56 for detection of tumor infiltrating NK cells. This work advances PET imaging of NK cells and supports the translation of imaging agents for immunotherapy monitoring.

    View details for DOI 10.2967/jnumed.119.233163

    View details for PubMedID 32532927

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the natural killer (NK) cell activation receptor NKp30. Shaffer, T. M., Aalipour, A., Gambhir, S. S. AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2020: 102–3
  • Allogeneic Chimeric Antigen Receptor-Invariant Natural Killer T Cells Exert Both Direct and Indirect Antitumor Effects through Host CD8 T Cell Cross-Priming Simonetta, F., Hirai, T., Lohmeyer, F., Maas-Bauer, K., Alvarez, M., Wenokur, A., Baker, J., Aalipour, A., Haile, S., Mackall, C. L., Negrin, R. S. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2020: S42
  • Intravital imaging reveals synergistic effect of CAR T-cells and radiation therapy in a preclinical immunocompetent glioblastoma model Oncoimmunology Murty, S., Haile, S. T., Beinat, C., Aalipour, A., Alam, I. S., Murty, T., Shaffer, T. M., Patel, C. B., Graves, E. E., Mackall, C. L., Gambhir, S. S. 2020; 9 (1)
  • A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta. Nature biomedical engineering Park, S. M., Won, D. D., Lee, B. J., Escobedo, D. n., Esteva, A. n., Aalipour, A. n., Ge, T. J., Kim, J. H., Suh, S. n., Choi, E. H., Lozano, A. X., Yao, C. n., Bodapati, S. n., Achterberg, F. B., Kim, J. n., Park, H. n., Choi, Y. n., Kim, W. J., Yu, J. H., Bhatt, A. M., Lee, J. K., Spitler, R. n., Wang, S. X., Gambhir, S. S. 2020


    Technologies for the longitudinal monitoring of a person's health are poorly integrated with clinical workflows, and have rarely produced actionable biometric data for healthcare providers. Here, we describe easily deployable hardware and software for the long-term analysis of a user's excreta through data collection and models of human health. The 'smart' toilet, which is self-contained and operates autonomously by leveraging pressure and motion sensors, analyses the user's urine using a standard-of-care colorimetric assay that traces red-green-blue values from images of urinalysis strips, calculates the flow rate and volume of urine using computer vision as a uroflowmeter, and classifies stool according to the Bristol stool form scale using deep learning, with performance that is comparable to the performance of trained medical personnel. Each user of the toilet is identified through their fingerprint and the distinctive features of their anoderm, and the data are securely stored and analysed in an encrypted cloud server. The toilet may find uses in the screening, diagnosis and longitudinal monitoring of specific patient populations.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41551-020-0534-9

    View details for PubMedID 32251391

  • Allogeneic Chimeric Antigen Receptor-Invariant Natural Killer T Cells Exert Both Direct and Indirect Antitumor Effects through Host CD8 T Cell Cross-Priming Simonetta, F., Hirai, T., Lohmeyer, J. K., Maas-Bauer, K., Alvarez, M., Wenokur, A. S., Baker, J., Haile, S., Mackall, C. L., Negrin, R. S. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2019
  • Engineered immune cells as highly sensitive cancer diagnostics. Nature biotechnology Aalipour, A. n., Chuang, H. Y., Murty, S. n., D'Souza, A. L., Park, S. M., Gulati, G. S., Patel, C. B., Beinat, C. n., Simonetta, F. n., Martinić, I. n., Gowrishankar, G. n., Robinson, E. R., Aalipour, E. n., Zhian, Z. n., Gambhir, S. S. 2019


    Endogenous biomarkers remain at the forefront of early disease detection efforts, but many lack the sensitivities and specificities necessary to influence disease management. Here, we describe a cell-based in vivo sensor for highly sensitive early cancer detection. We engineer macrophages to produce a synthetic reporter on adopting an M2 tumor-associated metabolic profile by coupling luciferase expression to activation of the arginase-1 promoter. After adoptive transfer in colorectal and breast mouse tumor models, the engineered macrophages migrated to the tumors and activated arginase-1 so that they could be detected by bioluminescence imaging and luciferase measured in the blood. The macrophage sensor detected tumors as small as 25-50 mm3 by blood luciferase measurements, even in the presence of concomitant inflammation, and was more sensitive than clinically used protein and nucleic acid cancer biomarkers. Macrophage sensors also effectively tracked the immunological response in muscle and lung models of inflammation, suggesting the potential utility of this approach in disease states other than cancer.

    View details for PubMedID 30886438

  • Equity more likely in diverse labs NATURE Aalipour, A. 2018; 563 (7732): 473

    View details for DOI 10.1038/d41586-018-07453-3

    View details for Web of Science ID 000450960000029

    View details for PubMedID 30464273

  • An intravascular magnetic wire for the high-throughput retrieval of circulating tumour cells in vivo. Nature biomedical engineering Vermesh, O., Aalipour, A., Ge, T. J., Saenz, Y., Guo, Y., Alam, I. S., Park, S., Adelson, C. N., Mitsutake, Y., Vilches-Moure, J., Godoy, E., Bachmann, M., Ooi, C. C., Lyons, J. K., Mueller, K., Arami, H., Green, A., Solomon, E. I., Wang, S. X., Gambhir, S. S. 2018; 2: 696–705


    The detection and analysis of rare blood biomarkers is necessary for early cancer diagnosis and to facilitate the development of tailored therapies. However, current methods for the isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or nucleic acids present in a standard clinical sample of only 5-10 mL of blood provide inadequate yields for early cancer detection and comprehensive molecular profiling. We have developed a flexible magnetic wire that can retrieve rare biomarkers from the subject's blood in vivo at a much higher yield. The wire is inserted and removed through a standard intravenous catheter and captures biomarkers that have been previously labeled with injected magnetic particles. In a proof-of-concept experiment in a live porcine model, we demonstrate the in vivo labeling and single-pass capture of viable model CTCs in less than 10 seconds. The wire achieves capture efficiencies that correspond to enrichments of 10-80 times the amount of CTCs in a 5-mL blood draw, and to 500-5,000 times the enrichments achieved by the commercially available Gilupi CellCollector.

    View details for PubMedID 30524876

  • An intravascular magnetic wire for high-throughput in vivo enrichment of rare circulating cancer biomarkers Vermesh, O., Aalipour, A., Ge, T. J., Saenz, Y., Guo, Y., Park, S., Mitsutake, Y., Bachmann, M., Ooi, C., Mueller, K., Arami, H., Green, A., Wang, S. X., Gambhir, S. S. AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH. 2017
  • Towards clinically translatable in vivo nanodiagnostics Nature Reviews Materials Park, S., Aalipour, A., Vermesh, O., Yu, J., Gambhir, S. S. 2017; 2
  • Deactivated CRISPR Associated Protein 9 for Minor-Allele Enrichment in Cell-Free DNA. Clinical chemistry Aalipour, A. n., Dudley, J. C., Park, S. M., Murty, S. n., Chabon, J. J., Boyle, E. A., Diehn, M. n., Gambhir, S. S. 2017


    Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) diagnostics are emerging as a new paradigm of disease monitoring and therapy management. The clinical utility of these diagnostics is relatively limited by a low signal-to-noise ratio, such as with low allele frequency (AF) mutations in cancer. While enriching for rare alleles to increase their AF before sample analysis is one strategy that can greatly improve detection capability, current methods are limited in their generalizability, ease of use, and applicability to point mutations.Leveraging the robust single-base-pair specificity and generalizability of the CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9) system, we developed a deactivated Cas9 (dCas9)-based method of minor-allele enrichment capable of efficient single-target and multiplexed enrichment. The dCas9 protein was complexed with single guide RNAs targeted to mutations of interest and incubated with cfDNA samples containing mutant strands at low abundance. Mutation-bound dCas9 complexes were isolated, dissociated, and the captured DNA purified for downstream use.Targeting the 3 most common epidermal growth factor receptor mutations (exon 19 deletion, T790M, L858R) found in nonsmall-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we achieved >20-fold increases in AF and detected mutations by use of qPCR at an AF of 0.1%. In a cohort of 18 NSCLC patient-derived cfDNA samples, our method enabled detection of 8 out of 13 mutations that were otherwise undetected by qPCR.The dCas9 method provides important application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system outside the realm of genome editing and can provide a step forward for the detection capability of cfDNA diagnostics.

    View details for PubMedID 29038154

  • Temporally resolved direct delivery of second messengers into cells using nanostraws LAB ON A CHIP Xu, A. M., Kim, S. A., Wang, D. S., Aalipour, A., Melosh, N. A. 2016; 16 (13): 2434-2439


    Second messengers are biomolecules with the critical role of conveying information to intracellular targets. They are typically membrane-impermeable and only enter cells through tightly regulated transporters. Current methods for manipulating second messengers in cells require preparation of modified cell lines or significant disruptions in cell function, especially at the cell membrane. Here we demonstrate that 100 nm diameter 'nanostraws' penetrate the cell membrane to directly modulate second messenger concentrations within cells. Nanostraws are hollow vertical nanowires that provide a fluidic conduit into cells to allow time-resolved delivery of the signaling ion Ca(2+) without chemical permeabilization or genetic modification, minimizing cell perturbation. By integrating the nanostraw platform into a microfluidic device, we demonstrate coordinated delivery of Ca(2+) ions into hundreds of cells at the time scale of several seconds with the ability to deliver complex signal patterns, such as oscillations over time. The diffusive nature of nanostraw delivery gives the platform unique versatility, opening the possibility for time-resolved delivery of any freely diffusing molecules.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c6lc00463f

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378941700008

    View details for PubMedID 27292263

  • Molecular profiling of single circulating tumor cells from lung cancer patients PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Park, S., Wong, D. J., Ooi, C., Kurtz, D. M., Vermesh, O., Aalipour, A., Suh, S., Pian, K. L., Chabon, J. J., Lee, S., Jamali, M., Say, C., Carter, J. N., Lee, L. P., Kuschner, W. G., Schwartz, E. J., Shrager, J. B., Neal, J. W., Wakelee, H. A., Diehn, M., Nair, V. S., Wang, S. X., Gambhir, S. S. 2016; 113 (52): E8379–E8386

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1608461113

  • Bioorthogonal Calcium Modulation by Direct Intracellular Access using Nanostraws Xu, A., Aalipour, A., Kim, S., Melosh, N. CELL PRESS. 2015: 568A
  • Determining the Time Window for Dynamic Nanowire Cell Penetration Processes. ACS nano Xie, X. n., Aalipour, A. n., Gupta, S. V., Melosh, N. A. 2015; 9 (12): 11667–77


    Nanowire (NW) arrays offer opportunities for parallel, nondestructive intracellular access for biomolecule delivery, intracellular recording, and sensing. Spontaneous cell membrane penetration by vertical nanowires is essential for these applications, yet the time- and geometry-dependent penetration process is still poorly understood. In this work, the dynamic NW-cell interface during cell spreading was examined through experimental cell penetration measurements combined with two mechanical models based on substrate adhesion force or cell traction forces. Penetration was determined by comparing the induced tension at a series of given membrane configurations to the critical membrane failure tension. The adhesion model predicts that penetration occurs within a finite window shortly after initial cell contact and adhesion, while the traction model predicts increasing penetration over a longer period. NW penetration rates determined from a cobalt ion delivery assay are compared to the predicted results from the two models. In addition, the effects of NW geometry and cell properties are systematically evaluated to identify the key factors for penetration.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsnano.5b05498

    View details for PubMedID 26554425

  • Plasma membrane and actin cytoskeleton as synergistic barriers to nanowire cell penetration. Langmuir Aalipour, A., Xu, A. M., Leal-Ortiz, S., Garner, C. C., Melosh, N. A. 2014; 30 (41): 12362-12367


    Nanowires are a rapidly emerging platform for manipulation of and material delivery directly into the cell cytosol. These high aspect ratio structures can breach the lipid membrane; however, the yield of penetrant structures is low, and the mechanism is largely unknown. In particular, some nanostructures appear to defeat the membrane transiently, while others can retain long-term access. Here, we examine if local dissolution of the lipid membrane, actin cytoskeleton, or both can enhance nanowire penetration. It is possible that, during cell contact, membrane rupture occurs; however, if the nanostructures do not penetrate the cytoskeleton, the membrane may reclose over a relatively short time frame. We show with quantitative analysis of the number of penetrating nanowires that the lipid bilayer and actin cytoskeleton are synergistic barriers to nanowire cell access, yet chemical poration through both is still insufficient to increase long-term access for adhered cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/la502273f

    View details for PubMedID 25244597

  • Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitors and their clinical potential in the treatment of B-cell malignancies: focus on ibrutinib. Therapeutic advances in hematology Aalipour, A., Advani, R. H. 2014; 5 (4): 121-133


    Aberrant signaling of the B-cell receptor pathway has been linked to the development and maintenance of B-cell malignancies. Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK), a protein early in this pathway, has emerged as a new therapeutic target in a variety of such malignancies. Ibrutinib, the most clinically advanced small molecule inhibitor of BTK, has demonstrated impressive tolerability and activity in a range of B-cell lymphomas which led to its recent approval for relapsed mantle cell lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This review focuses on the preclinical and clinical development of ibrutinib and discusses its therapeutic potential.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/2040620714539906

    View details for PubMedID 25360238

  • Rapid Calcium Modulation in Cells: Direct Intracellular Access using Nanostraws Xu, A., Kim, S. A., Aalipour, A., Melosh, N. A. CELL PRESS. 2014: 432A
  • Quantification of nanowire penetration into living cells. Nature communications Xu, A. M., Aalipour, A., Leal-Ortiz, S., Mekhdjian, A. H., Xie, X., Dunn, A. R., Garner, C. C., Melosh, N. A. 2014; 5: 3613-?


    High-aspect ratio nanostructures such as nanowires and nanotubes are a powerful new tool for accessing the cell interior for delivery and sensing. Controlling and optimizing cellular access is a critical challenge for this new technology, yet even the most basic aspect of this process, whether these structures directly penetrate the cell membrane, is still unknown. Here we report the first quantification of hollow nanowires-nanostraws-that directly penetrate the membrane by observing dynamic ion delivery from each 100-nm diameter nanostraw. We discover that penetration is a rare event: 7.1±2.7% of the nanostraws penetrate the cell to provide cytosolic access for an extended period for an average of 10.7±5.8 penetrations per cell. Using time-resolved delivery, the kinetics of the first penetration event are shown to be adhesion dependent and coincident with recruitment of focal adhesion-associated proteins. These measurements provide a quantitative basis for understanding nanowire-cell interactions, and a means for rapidly assessing membrane penetration.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms4613

    View details for PubMedID 24710350

  • Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors: a promising novel targeted treatment for B cell lymphomas. British journal of haematology Aalipour, A., Advani, R. H. 2013; 163 (4): 436-443


    Constitutive or aberrant signalling of the B cell receptor signalling cascade has been implicated in the propagation and maintenance of a variety of B cell malignancies. Small molecule inhibitors of Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK), a protein early in this cascade and specifically expressed in B cells, have emerged as a new class of targeted agents. There are several BTK inhibitors, including ONO-WG-307, LFM-A13, dasatinib, CC-292, and PCI-32765 (ibrutinib), in preclinical and/or clinical development of which ibrutinib is currently in phase III trials. Recent clinical data suggest significant activity of ibrutinib as a first in class oral inhibitor of BTK. This review provides an overview of ongoing clinical studies of BTK inhibitors.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bjh.12573

    View details for PubMedID 24111579

  • Nanostraw-Mediated Intracellular Delivery: Direct Observation of Cell/Nanotube Interfaces 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical-Society Xu, A. M., Aalipour, A., Melosh, N. A. CELL PRESS. 2013: 194A–194A

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