Lego replica of Ohio Stadium fuels cardiovascular research
It’s the most iconic structure on The Ohio State University’s campus, and it’s helping address problems that affect one of the body’s most vital organs.
Paul Janssen, PhD, used Ohio Stadium as his inspiration to build a monumental Lego project more than a decade ago. He spent five years creating his model of the ‘Shoe, which comprises more than 700,000 bricks and is 8 feet by 6 feet. It has drawn innumerable agape looks during past exhibitions at the Columbus Museum of Art and the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, and it’s currently on display at Ohio State’s Thompson Library.
The 200-pound structure is a marvel unto itself, but its purpose is even more inspiring. Dr. Janssen, a professor of physiology and cell biology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, has helped use it to further research into a range of diseases at The Ohio State University Heart and Vascular Center.
For a donation of $25, Dr. Janssen builds and installs a minifigure in one of the replica stadium’s seats, where it will stay indefinitely. The money raised goes to support Dr. Janssen’s and colleagues’ research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease and heart failure. Additionally, this fund has helped pay for students to attend national conferences, publish scientific research papers and samples needed for cardiovascular research.
Dr. Janssen’s lab is one of 17 at Ohio State that collaboratively study live human heart tissue, specifically hearts that have been explanted from those receiving transplants.
This year’s campaign aligns with the stadium’s 100th anniversary, and donations will support heart research at Ohio State as well as University Archives.
The grassroots nature of the fundraising campaign is what speaks most to Dr. Janssen.
“It’s very fulfilling to raise money this way for heart research, because usually we get money from grants and often it’s anonymous,” he says. “This is different, because so many different people donated.
In a way, it becomes more valuable because you’re emotionally invested.”
The Lego stadium is on display through February 2023.