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La Jolla scientists gifted COVID-19 sculpture for research efforts

LJII COVID-19 Sculpture
Posted at 6:58 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 21:58:14-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) — An artist in Mexico is honoring researchers at the La Jolla Institute for their leading efforts in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

"When a doctor is able to give a vaccine or able to give treatment or able to give advice, it's because that has come from a body of scientists,” Dr. Erica Ollmann-Saphire, President of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, said.

Inside the La Jolla Institute for Immunology building is where you'll find Juan de Dion Sanchez’s work of art — a ceramic COVID-19 molecule.

It’s a tribute to researchers working tirelessly to end the pandemic.

"Seven days a week for well over a year and a half... missing time with our families to make advances against this,” Ollmann-Saphire, said.

“I’m saying thanks to you for everything you have done,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez's gratitude comes from first-hand knowledge as a former doctor.

"I know the work behind the vaccine. It's not easy, and they made great work,” he said.

The art piece is nearly 3 feet in diameter and was skillfully crafted over two months.

The molecules’ spikes are replaced by roses made by hand with faces in the middle. Sanchez said they’re a dual representation of those who’ve died from the virus and those leading the effort against it.

It's Ollmann-Saphire's favorite part of the sculpture.

"He built the spikes as roses because he knew that good would come from this,” she said.

But the process to create the piece wasn't easy, and in many ways, Saphire said, is similar to the COVID-19 research they do.

"He had to try 900 times before one would work and survive,” she said .”It's the same as the research effort."

The sculpture is one of ten pieces Sanchez created related to the COVID-19 pandemic.