#20 – Restoring touch through nerve repair – Karen Zaderej – Axogen

Impulse – Meeting Healthcare Pioneers

#20 – Restoring touch through nerve repair – Karen Zaderej – Axogen

June 25, 2023

#20 – Restoring touch through nerve repair – Karen Zaderej – Axogen

Restoring one of our five senses, in this case, touch.

The stakes are immense (1 in 1000 people are affected yearly by a peripheral nerve injury!) and the origins are diverse: traumatic accident, cancer, amputation, and many others.

And solutions to this problem have long needed to be improved.

Karen Zaderej and her team at Axogen have set themselves the goal of changing this situation, by proposing new ways of treating nerves, taking advantage of their regenerative potential.

A chemical engineer by training, Karen began her career at Johnson & Johnson in its surgical solutions subsidiary, ETHICON.

With 17 years of experience in roles ranging from manufacturing to product development and sales, she decided to leave her corporate career behind.

In 2006 she joined a Floridian start-up in its infancy, developing a new type of medical device enabling nerves to regenerate, still at the prototype stage and not yet tested on humans.

The outcome?

A company that has become a world leader in the development of cutting-edge nerve repair solutions, listed on the stock exchange and now employs over 400 people.

In this new episode, we delve into the world of peripheral nerves, the source of our physical and motor sensations, and their formidable regenerative capacities.

You will learn about:

  • How our nerves work and current approaches to repairing them
  • Phantom pain, how to explain it, and how to treat it
  • How women today can regain sensation in their breasts following a mastectomy
  • The journey of a remarkable woman entrepreneur who has made addressing nerve damage her life mission

Prepare to be nervously amazed as we unravel the secrets of touch restoration!


  • 00:03:00 – Karen’s background as a nerve evangelist
  • 00:07:35 – Key evolutions in medical technology that Karen witnessed
  • 00:10:42 – What Karen learned at J&J that shaped the rest of her career
  • 00:15:43 – What attracted Karen to Axogen and the potential of their technology
  • 00:20:40 – Scaling up a medical device company from a very early stage onwards
  • 00:23:15 – How Axogen enables nerve repair
  • 00:27:18 – Bringing an answer to phantom pain
  • 00:30:47 – The main indication areas covered by Axogen
  • 00:38:31 – What the future of nerve repair might look like

What we also talked about with Karen:

We cited with Karen some of the past episodes from the series:

You can learn more about Axogen through their website and their portfolio here.

Feel free to follow as well their activities on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook!

As mentioned by Karen during the episode, you can find out more about clinical research in peripheral nerve repair through the complete library of published papers curated by the company.

Karen also invites you to consult and to hear about patient stories and find resources in case you face a similar situation.

If you want to get in touch with Karen, feel free to contact her over LinkedIn.

If you want to give me feedback on the episode or suggest potential guests, feel free to do so contact me over LinkedIn or via email at [email protected]!

If you liked the episode, please share it, subscribe to the podcast, and leave a 5-star review on streaming platforms!

Follow also our activities on LinkedIn and through our website!

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