09/07:Professor Jessica Larsen (Clemson University) will Present a Lecture to the University

Nanomedicine and Immunoengineering Seminar Series: “Pathology Driven Approaches to the Treatment of Neurologic Disorders”

Jessica Larsen, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Clemson University


Professor Jessica Larsen works at the interface of neurodegenerative disease biology and biomaterials science, using a disease-based approach to polymer delivery system design. Her group tailors polymer-based systems, including nanoparticles and hydrogels, to respond to pathophysiologic changes in the brain. Major efforts include amelioration of brain disease, in situ diagnostic tool development, identification of novel biomarkers, and improved imaging agents. She received the NSF CAREER Award in the Spring of 2021.


Professor Jessica Larsen began her academic career at the University of Virginia, obtaining her BS in Chemical Engineering in 2012. She obtained her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University where she was able to perform research under Drs. Mark Byrne in Chemical Engineering and Doug Martin in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Her research is centered on biomimetic and polymeric materials for drug delivery applications in neurodegenerative disease and other brain disorders. Professor Larsen is the research mentor for five PhD students, and as many as 20 undergraduate students a semester. In her undergraduate mentoring efforts, she has received the Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry. She was also selected as the 2021 Outstanding Faculty Woman at Clemson University.


Personally, Professor Larsen is engaged in the local community as a Cross-Country coach at Seneca High School. This past fall, her team won the state championship in Cross Country for the third year in a row. She’s also a volunteer teacher in the two-year-old room at NewSpring Church in Anderson.



According to the World Health Organization, neurologic disorders account for the largest global burden through both early mortality and loss of independent life due to disability. Although there is a clear need for treatments that can enter the brain, there are a very limited number of medications available on the market. A major contributor to this fact is the presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which prevents passage of more than 98% of small molecule therapeutics from the blood into the brain tissue. The Larsen Lab works on polymeric biomaterials-based approaches to either bypass the BBB or transport payloads through the BBB. By understanding the pathophysiology of each disease, polymeric biomaterials can be created to respond specifically to disease-based stimuli. As one example, the Larsen Lab uses enzyme-responsive polymersomes to deliver active enzyme beta-galactosidase to the brain in the treatment of genetic disease, GM1 Gangliosidosis. Simultaneously, the Larsen Lab develops temperature and pH-responsive hydrogels capable of spinal cord or intracranially injection to promote healing microenvironments in the case of neurologic injury. In this presentation, Dr. Larsen will provide detailed examples of her current, most successful approaches.


Sponsored by the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Mississippi (IDRUM)