Jessica Larsen, Clemson University
Unlocking the Brain: Nanomedicine as a Key to Neural Drug Delivery

April 15, 2021

Dr. Jessica Larsen from Clemson University Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is a current SC INBRE Developmental Research Project Program (DRP) recipient. Her research is centered on biomimetic and polymeric materials for drug delivery applications in neurodegenerative disease and other brain disorders. Her current research focuses on the development of advanced material amphiphiles to enhance enzyme delivery in neurodegenerative diseases. In these efforts, she utilizes a variety of nanoparticle characterization techniques, as well as in vitro and in vivo therapeutic analysis, working at the interface of biology and engineering. Through careful development of biologically relevant nanocarriers, Dr. Larsen hopes to bring next-generation nanomedicine with both disease-specificity and patient-personalization to the clinic.

Dr. Larsen’s website

Dr. Larsen told us that her favorite beverage is a Moscow Mule. Our “mixologist” and Program Manager John Clarkson responded with this:

The Moscow Mule is a refreshing and light cocktail made for springtime sipping. The cocktail is made to highlight the earthy and spicy bite of ginger beer (it says “beer,” but it is non-alcoholic) and the floral bright tartness of lime juice. The uniqueness of this cocktail comes from the vessel – a copper mug. Copper is a superior thermal conductor, so copper mugs respond to the temperature of what is inside. When containing a Moscow Mule, copper mugs become cool, creating a chilling sensation when sipped.

Typically, the spirit used is vodka and anyone that says vodka is supposed to be flavorless is missing out. REALLY good vodka brings very subtle flavors of grain and floral undertones. However, vodka is not the main focus of the cocktail – the ginger beer is the star.

Ginger beer is produced by the natural fermentation of prepared ginger spice, yeast and sugar. The carbonated drink is usually non-alcoholic and can have a heavy (spicy) profile of ginger or more of a subtle bite depending on the brand. Ginger ale can be used if strong ginger flavor is a turn-off. I prefer ginger beer produced in Jamaica – as it was always in the refrigerator growing up with a Jamaican family. My grandmother believed ginger was a cure-all and regularly fed me and my siblings a bottle of ginger beer for all of our ailments.

The lime juice provides a great contrast to the ginger flavor and cuts into the bite and sweetness. It is best to use fresh squeezed limes (trust me – the bottled stuff doesn’t hold a candle to the real juice). If you are lucky – key lime juice is exceptional as it’s tartness really adds a great pop of tartness that really fills out the cocktail, but key limes are very very hard to find outside of Florida and the Caribbean. You may be able to find bottled key lime juice at some retail outlets or the internet.

This mocktail doesn’t require a substitute for the vodka – we will simply create a Moscow Mule with the ginger beer and lime juice.


Download the recipe card

Copper Mug (available at most retail outlets and the internet) -or- highball glass
Crushed Ice
Spoon or stirring straw

6-7 oz. Ginger beer -or- Ginger ale
1/2 oz. Fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. Seltzer water (optional – to mute the ginger flavor and provide extra bubbles)
Garnish: Lime wedge -or- sprig of mint -or- both

Fill copper mug (or glass) with crushed ice.
Combine ginger beer (or ale) and lime juice.
Gently stir to combine.
Top with garnish.