Image via WIRED
He’s never been in combat, but Dr. Joachim Kohn’s life has been marked by war. Born some six decades ago to Jewish parents in post-WWII Munich, Kohn’s earliest memories are of bombed-out buildings. While some toddlers fondly recall sunny parks and kindergartens, Kohn’s playground was instead a scarred and skeletal cityscape. Having lost many family members to the Holocaust, the realities of war and their human toll have always been, well, realities for Kohn, who is now changing the way soldiers heal.
Today, Kohn is a chemist piloting a $250 million, Pentagon-funded project called AFIRM, or Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. As the World’s Most WIRED War Healer, he has found new ways to repair bones and nerves through science. His groundbreaking successes have included the country’s first-ever face transplant; lab-grown ears nearly ready for human transplantation; and an engineered skin substitute that will soon be tested on soldiers with extensive burns.
Targeting the most common, debilitating injuries, including burns, lost limbs, and invasive wounds, Kohn has vastly improved the way veterans recover from the devastation of war. It might not be world peace, but it is peace of mind.