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Merit for medical school building

The Queen's School of Medicine building at 15 Arch St.

The new building that is home to the Queen’s School of Medicine has won an Award of Merit at the 2014 Livable City Design Awards.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in Toronto and local firm Shoalts and Zaback Architects and built by local construction firm M.Sullivan and Son Limited, the $77-million facility opened in fall 2011, in time for the Class of 2015’s first classes at Queen’s.

"Queen's is honored to receive this award from the City and proud to have our facility recognized with others in helping to celebrate Kingston's long tradition of architectural excellence and creative urban management," says John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities).

Full of natural light and buzzing with activity at all times of day, the building features two spaces equipped with the latest acoustic and audiovisual technologies where full lectures or small group learning sessions can take place. There are also 30 small rooms throughout the building designed for small group study sessions.

The new Queen’s School of Medicine building comes complete with a simulation clinic and simulation hospital and operating rooms for students to develop their practical skills. A floor in the building is dedicated to foundational sciences like anatomy, pharmacology, toxicology and the Anatomy Museum.

“The way that Shoalts and Zaback Architects, who are local architects, worked with Diamond Schmitt Architects of Toronto was very important because they are local and so they wanted the New Medical Building to be as spectacular as they could make it within the budget,” says Yvonne Holland, Director of Campus Planning at Queen’s. “I think from a project management perspective, nothing short of Herculean effort was exercised here to make this happen.”

The 2014 Livable City Awards recognize Kingston projects completed between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2013. Projects were evaluated based on: significance to the city, significance to their community, innovation, context, execution, green design and accessibility.

To learn more about the Livable City Design Awards, follow this link. The press release from the City of Kingston is available here.

Impressive incunabula

Queen’s Library has mounted Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing. The exhibit features material from the Library collection and two works owned by Principal Daniel Woolf, whose research interests include the global history of historical writing. Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer, sat down with Principal Woolf to discuss his incunabula and the other books in his collection. 

  • [Incunabula]
    Featured in the exhibit is a leaf from the Nuremberg Chronicle printed by Hartmann Schedel in 1493, on loan from the private collection of Principal Daniel Woolf.
  • [Incunabula]
    Students, staff and faculty attended the opening of Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing, on Monday, Nov.10.
  • [Incunabula]
    Some of the pieces in the exhibit feature "marginalia," or notes from readers found in the margins of the texts.
  • [Incunabula]
    Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing is on display at the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library through Dec. 1.

MK: What is the significance of the works you have loaned to the Library for the exhibit?

DW: One of them is a whole book, a chronicle that came out in 1481 of which the Library in fact owns a slightly earlier edition printed elsewhere. It’s interesting to compare the two. The other is a leaf from the famous Nuremberg Chronicle that came out in 1493.

The full book, which is missing one or two leaves, was written by Carthusian monk Werner Rolevinck. It’s distinctive as being only the second book since printing was invented to be written by a then-living author. Up to that point, the first books printed were the classics and works such as the Bible.

The Nuremberg Chronicle was the giant history of the world published in 1493 by Hartmann Schedel. That’s not the book’s actual title, but it was called that because Schedel was based in Nuremberg.

MK: Your rare book collection includes many titles besides the incunabula. Can you tell me more about your collection and how you acquire the books?

DW: I have a fair number of books from the 16th century and a lot from the 17th and 18th centuries. Occasionally I stray over into the 19th century.

When I first started out, I was going into antiquarian books shops. That is a relatively slow process if you are looking for particular titles. Over the last few years, it has become much easier to buy unusual books through vendor sites like abebooks.com. But now I am increasingly going directly to individual booksellers who are now well aware of my interests. If they get something interesting, they will dangle it in front of me.

MK: Do you collect rare books as a hobby or for research purposes?

DW: Both. There is a theme to the works I collect. They are all works of history or antiquarian scholarship or antiquarian topography written between the 16th to 18th centuries. I will have at one point used other copies of almost all of them in my research over the last 30 years.

MK: Are there any good stories behind some of the books you own?

DW: Some of them have had very interesting “provenance” in past ownership. One is a copy of an early 17th century printing of an Elizabethan English translation of an early 16th century history of Italy by Francesco Guicciardini. The book itself is a very interesting and important work and it’s a nice early edition. But what gives it added value is the book plate, which indicates it belonged to Victorian poet Matthew Arnold.

Others are interesting because they have all sorts of notes. I have one book in which somebody has interleaved the actual book with lots of other leaves, on which they have added their own notes or “grangerizing” interesting things they found relevant to the book. That process, known as “extra-illustrating,” was very popular in the 18th century.

MK: Why should people visit the exhibit at the Library?

DW: The exhibit is fabulous because these aren’t just old books. They’re among the rarest in the world and they appeared right at the dawn of printing. Just consider how many people have owned those books in their 500 year history. When some of these were printed, Columbus had not yet sailed. They are here now and they will be here 200 or 300 years from now — they are survivors.

Considering it was a new technology, the quality of the printing and the paper was remarkable. The quality of the printing is so much superior to most later printing. If you have seen some 19th century books in the Library, often the pages are not in good shape because they were printed on pulp paper that was treated with an acid, which has made the pages brittle over time. Most of these incunabula were printed on a paper based on rags. It’s much tougher. The books are beautiful works of art.

Incunabula: An Exhibit of 15th Century Printing continues at the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library (Douglas Library) through Dec. 1.

New hope for prostate cancer patients

Queen’s University pathologist David Berman plays a critical, if little-seen, role in a patient’s journey from medical consultation to disease diagnosis.

“I’m the one who looks at the patient’s tissues under a microscope and determines, this is benign, this is malignant,” he says. “And if it’s malignant, I help answer important questions such as: does it need treatment and, if so, what kind? Or can this be left alone?”

As a clinician-scientist at the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute, Dr. Berman knows how difficult those decisions can be, especially in his research area of prostate cancer, where at least half of all diagnosed cases are harmless and don’t require treatment. And biopsies – surgical procedures that remove small samples of tumor tissue for analysis – aren’t always effective in distinguishing the harmful cancers from other, relatively harmless types.

David Berman works in his lab with Atsunari Kawashima and undergraduate student Nathan How.

“If we could find the biomarkers, or molecular clues, that would tell us which cancers are harmful, we could look for those features in blood or urine tests, and skip biopsies altogether,” he explains. “Blood or urine tests would be faster, less expensive, and less invasive, and ensure that those with the more harmful cancers get their diagnosis and treatment sooner.”

His research is focused on doing just that. A recent recruit to the Queen’s Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and KGH from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Dr. Berman is leading a team of scientists across Canada who are studying a large number of genes that will form the foundation of new tests for prostate cancer. The group will study prostate cancer samples from two patient groups in Kingston and Montreal, looking for specific molecular features, such as the modification, gain or loss of particular genes.

The goal of this work, funded by Movember and Prostate Cancer Canada, is to develop new and better tests that help clarify decision-making for men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, and improve their quality of life.

“There are some features for these tests that look really promising,” he says. “We’re hoping to identify tests that will tell us at the time of biopsy whether the patient’s cancer is harmful.”

He’s happy with his progress so far, in part because of some distinct advantages in his research environment in Canada, he says. The first is Cancer Care Ontario’s patient registry, a computerized database that provides researchers with a wealth of scientific data about cancer diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for all Ontario cancer patients. “It’s an advantage of Canada’s single-payer health care system,” he says. “Johns Hopkins didn’t have anything like this.”

He also credits the NCIC Clinical Trials Group, literally next door, in the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute. “Having the clinical trials group on site means we can take research to the next level by doing a patient trial.”

Dr. Berman was one of 14 researchers across Canada jointly awarded a five-year, $5 million Movember Team Grant from Prostate Cancer Canada. The team, called PRONTO, is focusing on rapid development of novel diagnostic markers for early prostate cancer.

This story is the third in a series on the KGH Research Institute and the clinician-scientists recruited to work in the centre. 

SSHRC supports students and postdocs

Ninety-six Queen’s University graduate students and post-doctoral trainees have received more than $3.45 million in scholarships and fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

“These scholarships and fellowships provide crucial support to our master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral trainees as they develop their research skills and push the envelope on discovery. These promising new researchers are addressing important and relevant issues often leading to progressive solutions with considerable cultural, social and economic benefit,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “Queen’s success in this SSHRC competition underscores the tremendous talent and potential of our students and trainees as the researchers and leaders of tomorrow.”

The list of Queen’s recipients includes:  

  • 44 Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s Program winners
  • 21 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program—Doctoral Scholarship winners
  • 27 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships Program winners
  • 4 SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellows

The Queen’s recipients are conducting research on a variety of topics including bullying, artifact conservation, child welfare, social anxiety, religious accommodation, virtual violence, eating alone and performing arts education.

Awarded by SSHRC, the fellowships and scholarships will support the development of tomorrow’s research leaders at postsecondary institutions across the country. Nearly 2,500 masters, doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships and scholarships will contribute to building the knowledge and talent essential for Canada in the 21st century’s culture of innovation.

“By investing in new and talented leaders through SSHRC scholarships and fellowships, Canada is well prepared to meet important future challenge areas,” says Brent Herbert-Copley, Vice-President, Research Programs, SSHRC. “SSHRC-funded research enhances understanding of social, cultural, technological and economic issues that are critical to developing the next generation of leaders and to building a better future for Canada and the world.”

Visit the SSHRC website for more information.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines.

Cutting-edge cancer trial announced

Queen’s University announced today that the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) has developed and will lead an international clinical trial of a new class of cancer drug aimed at curing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients who have had surgery and chemotherapy for disease confined to the lung. The academic-led trial will impact lung cancer patients following standard treatment.  Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in North America and is the leading cancer killer in both men and women.

NCIC CTG director Janet Dancey speaks about the international clinical trial of a new class of cancer drug aimed at curing non-small cell lung cancer in patients who have had surgery and chemotherapy for disease confined to the lung.

NSCLC accounts for 80-85 per cent of all lung cancer cases.

The new drug, MEDI4736 (AstraZeneca), is one of a new class of pharmaceuticals that helps the body’s immune system recognize and attack cancer. Drugs in this class have already been approved for use in patients with malignant melanoma.

“This trial will test a new drug from an emerging class of agents that doesn’t directly kill cancer cells but instead improves our own immune system’s ability  to fight and kill the cancer cells,”  says trial leader Glen Goss, an oncologist and clinician investigator at The Ottawa Hospital. “This is a new way of fighting cancer and therefore we are moving these drugs into the earliest stage of lung cancer treatment to meet a major unmet need.”

The trial is being conducted internationally, with collaboration from the Intergroupe Francophone de Cancerologie Thoracique (France), the National Cancer Institute, Naples (Italy),   the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group &  National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre (Australia), the Spanish Lung Cancer Group, the Dutch Society for Pulmonology and Tuberculosis (NVALT), the Central and East European Oncology Group, the Korean Cancer Study Group and the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

“This is one of the most significant research funding announcements in the history of Queen’s,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “It is very exciting, not only to know that this potentially life-saving research is happening right here in our midst, but also because it is allowing us to collaborate and build important relationships with researchers all over the world.”

“This trial is being completed internationally and includes academic physicians around the world,” says NCIC CTG director Janet Dancey. “This is the first trial in the world to test this new drug in the setting of early lung cancer treatment. We are always very grateful for ongoing support from the Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute - without them, we would not be able to lead such critical cancer trials."

The trial will be open to 1,100 patients in Canada and around the world. Patients wishing to join the trial should speak to their oncologists about their treatment options. Approximately 25 institutions from across Canada will participate. Information about participation will also be available on clinicaltrials.gov and cancerview.ca

Practice makes perfect in cancer surgery

In a new, in-depth research project, Queen’s professors Rob Siemens (Urology) and Christopher Booth (Cancer Care and Epidemiology) investigated what affect higher volume hospitals and surgeons had on the outcomes of patients undergoing a radical cystectomy for bladder cancer in Ontario.

Queen's professor Robert Sieman has uncovered higher volume leads to better outcomes in bladder surgery.

Using data provided by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) the investigators studied 2,802 patients who underwent the procedure between 1994 and 2008 in Ontario and found that higher volume hospital and surgeons were associated with less post-operative complications and better overall survival.

 “These results are intriguing and will undoubtedly lead to some controversy in their interpretation,” says Dr. Siemens. “We wondered if the processes and interactions that lead to better outcomes for patients treated by higher volume providers can be studied and identified, perhaps leading to improved outcomes for all if adopted by lower volume hospitals and surgeons.”

The recent study explored a number of different aspects of bladder cancer care to better understand how quality surgical care is delivered for patients with advanced bladder cancer. The explanations for this volume-outcome relationship still remain mostly unidentified which could be a research project in the future.

“This research has only been able to illuminate a small fraction of the factors that explain the improved outcomes of higher volume providers,” says Dr. Siemens. “Some would interpret this as a call to more aggressively support a policy of centralizing care at higher volume hospitals for complex medical/surgical diseases.”

The research was recently published in Urology.

Diving deep to uncover history of rocks

[Noel James]
Noel James teaching carbonate sedimentology in Bermuda.

 

[Queen's in the World
Queen's in the World

As a PhD student, Noel James (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering) saw a research opportunity to examine relatively young rocks, especially reef rocks, on and around the island of Barbados.

There was only one problem: he lacked a key skill required to understand reef rocks.

“I had never been a diver before. Literally, I learned to dive so I could work on my PhD in a semi-intelligent way,” he says.

Dr. James was hooked on scuba diving right away, which has allowed him to conduct extensive research on coral reefs, shallow seafloors and open shelves, the birthplace of many ancient limestones. From his original marine work in the Caribbean, Dr. James expanded his scope to innovative research on carbonate sedimentary rocks in the High Arctic, the Rocky Mountains, deserts in the Middle East and Australia’s Red Centre.

His contributions to the field earned him the Sorby Medal, the highest award of the International Association of Sedimentologists. The organization has only awarded the medal eight times over the past 40 years.

“It was a shock when I found out I’d won. I looked back at the previous medalists and they were my heroes. I thought, ‘what am I doing with this group of people?’” he says. “The other awards I have received have been profound but this one really affected me quite deeply because it’s worldwide.”

Dr. James, member of the Order of Canada, shares a connection with previous Sorby medalist Bob Ginsburg. After finishing his PhD, Dr. James worked with Dr. Ginsburg to establish a laboratory at the University of Miami. Their research focused on comparing ancient carbonate rocks such as limestone to modern seafloor sediments formed by the shells of dead calcareous organisms often using research submersibles to probe the deep zones of reef growth.

Dr. James carried on that style of research when he returned to Canada, examining rocks in locations across Canada while continuing his work on the modern seafloor. His passion for field work spills over into his teaching, where he infuses his undergraduate and graduate courses with his experiences. In addition he currently takes exceptional students to the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences each year to let them experience first-hand the complexities of reef growth.

“In a course like Geological Evolution of North America, I can tell the students what I found working in the Arctic on 3-billion-year-old rocks. I can use my own pictures and illustrations,” he says. “It’s nice to see them perk up when you are talking about what you have done. I hope in the back of their minds they are thinking, ‘maybe I can do that, too.’

Dr. James accepted the Sorby Medal at the 19th International Sedimentological Congress in Geneva.

Researchers working towards a cure

Four Queen’s University professors have received funding from the Cancer Research Society to continue their research into treatments for cancer. Lois Mulligan, Bruce Elliott, Peter Greer (Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine) and Madhuri Koti (Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) each received a $120,000 grant.

“Queen’s University has extensive expertise in fields of cancer research and treatment, both fundamental and clinical,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The investment being made is a testament to the strength of our researchers and potential to make a significant difference to a very important health issue. I look forward to watching the progress of these four remarkable researchers unfold with the support of the Cancer Research Society.”

Working in the Queen's Cancer Research Institute, researchers study cancer cells under a microscope.

The specific projects are as follows:

Dr. Koti is working to identify mechanisms in the immune system within the cancerous tumour that might contribute to individual differences in response to chemotherapy. This research will allow a personalized treatment approach for patients living with ovarian cancer.

Dr. Mulligan is focusing on a molecule called RET that helps convey signals to cells allowing them to grow or move. In a growing number of cancers, RET has been shown to help the cancerous tumour grow and spread to other sites. Her research will explore the roles of RET, which will provide tools to understand the system and combat human cancer.

Dr. Greer is studying Arpin, a recently discovered protein that plays a role in the spread of cancer. His research looks at how the disruption of Arpin in breast cancer cells blocks their ability to spread from the breast to other organs such as the liver and lungs. He is working to prove the theory that Arpin inhibition could help prevent the spread of breast cancer.

Dr. Elliott and his team are working to understand the mechanisms of cancer metastasis to the lymph nodes, a key indicator of a poor outcome in cancer patients. He is developing a model to image this metastasis process in real time to provide better understanding of the process. This information will move us a step closer to testing therapies that can prevent early cancer spread to the lymphatic system.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines.

Bullying expert honoured for changing lives

A Canadian leader in bullying prevention, Queen’s University researcher Wendy Craig was honoured Monday with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Partnership Award. One of five SSHRC Impact Awards, the honour recognizes a SSHRC‑funded formal partnership for its outstanding achievement in advancing research.

Communications Officer Anne Craig sat down with Dr. Craig to talk about her work and what the award means to her.

Anne Craig: Why did you choose this field of research?

Wendy Craig: I fell into what I do by accident. During my PhD I was involved in a study with Debra Pepler where we were looking at aggressive children’s interactions on the playground. When we filmed them to find out what was happening on the playground, we saw that the playground was really aggressive. In that initial study, through naturalist observation, we found that children were bullying each other once every seven and a half minutes and they were aggressive towards each other once every two minutes. That study really defined and launched my career.  It ignited a strong interest in conducting applied research to understand how to support children and youth to develop optimally and have safe, healthy and respectful relationships. 

By working as a researcher and getting that research into the hands of practitioners and people who work with children, I can be more effective in having a larger impact on the health and well-being of Canadian children and youth.

AC: What is the current focus of your work?

WC: In addition to my work as a professor and researcher, I am the scientific co-director of PREVNet along with Dr. Pepler at York University.  PREVNet is comprised of more than 125 researchers across the country and 63 national organizations that work with children and youth. Its goal is to provide practitioners with the scientific information that they need to be more effective in their practice. We also want practitioners to identify the burning questions we should tackle as researchers. My work has become about knowledge mobilization and bridging the gap between science, practice and policy through the process of bringing researchers and organizations together to co-create research, resources and tools.

AC: Why is your work important?

WC: I believe that this work is important because it has to do with the health and well-being of children and youth. We recently finished a study for the Public Health Agency of Canada where we found that high-quality relationships with parents, peers, teachers, adults at school and the community positively impact physical and mental health outcomes, as well as academic and social ones. The concern Dr. Pepler and I had when we did that study was fewer children in Canada are reporting having high-quality relationships with parents, teachers, schools, and in the neighborhood. Bullying is a relationship problem and is related to long-term negative effects.  We have learned that children don’t grow out of bullying; it’s a problem that grows more significant as they get older. Part of what we do is look at how we minimize that long-term impact through prevention and intervention.

AC: What does the Partnership Award mean for you and your career?

WE: The award really recognizes the work of the network. This work could not be as effective without all members of the network contributing their unique skills, expertise, resources, dedication and time. Over time, through the generous funding of SSHRC through the National Centres of Excellence program, we have built a network that has a common vision, and is based on the foundation of trusting relationships. This award celebrates the incredible accomplishments that happen when outstanding organizations, researchers and students come together to co-create projects that are driven by science and meet the needs of our partners. Relationships matter to create an effective network that has conducted more than 200 projects in the last seven years. Creating PREVNet was a dream and we are excited we are now having an impact and making a difference in the lives of Canadian youth.

AC: What is your focus for the future?

WE: There is much work to do in Canada to improve children and youth development.  We rank 25 out of 28 on relationships. Given that healthy development depends on healthy relationships, we need to engage and support adults in all the places that children and youth live, learn, work and play.  We will work with our partners to continue to co-create research projects, and develop evidence-based education and training, assessment and evaluation tools, prevention and intervention strategies, and enhanced policy.  Through PREVNet we are leading the world in an unprecedented manner in creating a social-cultural change in reducing bullying through promoting relationships. 

Helsinki visiting professorship will help further study

Susanne Soederberg (Global Development Studies and Political Studies) has been appointed to a prestigious visiting professorship at the University of Helsinki. The value of the award is $190,000.

[Susanne Soederberg]
Susanne Soederberg (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Through the Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor at the Collegium for Advanced Studies, set for the 2015-2016 academic year, Dr. Soederberg will be conducting research on a new project focused on shelter finance and housing rights for slum dwellers around the world.

Dr. Soederberg says the position will allow her to “research in an interdisciplinary and international environment with emerging and established scholars from both Europe and in the Global South.”

In her study, Governing Shelter Finance for Slum Dwellers: A Comparative Study of Mexico City, Manila, and Mumbai, Dr. Soederberg will initiate the first comparative study of shelter finance in three of the world’s largest slums: Cuidad Nezahualcóytl in Mexico City, the Tondo District in Manila, and Dharavi in Mumbai.

“One billion people – a number still rising – live in slums. Notwithstanding its status as a basic human right, most slum dwellers lack safe and secure shelter,” Dr. Soederberg says. “The United Nations has responded by endorsing Goal 7, Target 11 of its Millennium Development Goals (MDG 7) to ensure the adequate housing of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.”

However, she points out, demand for affordable housing continues to rise unabated while funds from governments and public donors have been insufficient. At the same time the various forms of shelter financing – such as commercialized mortgages, shelter microfinance, and community investment funds – have barely been explored.

“With only several years remaining to meet the 2020 MDG-7, it is crucial that scholars, practitioners, and policymakers possess a more complete knowledge base about the present scale, scope, and future sustainability of shelter finance as well as the power dynamics involved in its governance,” she says. “To this end, the core questions driving the project are: who benefits from shelter finance, and why? And, how have different forms of governance influenced which slum dwellers are able to gain access to certain types of shelter financing and which are excluded?”

The significance of the appointment is recognized by her Queen’s colleagues as well.

“What a great opportunity for Dr. Soederberg,” says Marc Epprecht, Professor and Head of Department, Global Development Studies. “Though we will miss her here in DEVS, where she is not only a great scholar but a well-loved teacher, we are proud of her achievements and of the nature of her research – making a difference to the lives of people in some of the most stressed communities in the world.”

The Collegium for Advanced Studies is an independent institute within the University of Helsinki. The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, which finances the Visiting Professorship, was established in 2002 to support high-level international research, arts and culture.

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