Gary K. Michelson

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Gary K. Michelson
Born (1949-01-14) January 14, 1949 (age 66)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Residence Los Angeles, CA
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Alma mater B.A. Temple University
M.D. Hahnemann Medical College
Occupation Medical device inventor
Net worth Increase US $ 1.5 billion (Sept 2013)[1]
Spouse(s) Married
Children 2

Dr. Gary K. Michelson (born January 14, 1949) is an American board certified orthopedic spinal surgeon and inventor.

Early life and education[edit]

Michelson and his three brothers were raised by his mother and grandmother. He is of Jewish heritage.[2] His grandmother suffered a crippling spinal deformity, which led him to dedicate his life to improving the lives of those afflicted with spinal ailments. He attended Central High School of Philadelphia, Temple University and Hahnemann Medical College. He completed his medical residency in orthopedic surgery at Hahnemann Medical Hospital and then had fellowship training in spinal surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center in a joint program between Baylor University and the University of Texas. He has been a practicing spinal surgeon for over 25 years and has over 110 research papers and publications to his credit.

Medical innovations[edit]

He is the inventor of a number of surgical instruments, operative methods and medical implants. Unhappy with the low success rates associated with spinal surgery procedures at the beginning of his career, he spent countless hours developing better implants, instruments and procedures that would enable spinal surgeons to cure a greater proportion of spinal ailments. "Michelson devices" have been implanted globally in hundreds of thousands of patients. He has over 250 U.S. Patents on instruments, methods and devices for advances in spinal and orthopedic surgery and over 950 issued or pending patents worldwide for instruments, operative procedures, and medical devices related to the treatment of spinal disorders.

In 2005, as the inventor, he sold ownership of many of his spine related patents to Medtronic for a price over $1 billion,[3] sending him onto the Forbes 400 where he has since remained.[4] His defense of a patent lawsuit by Medtronic established a major legal precedent in 2003, governing who bears the cost of pre-trial discovery of electronic evidence.[5]


Since retirement from private practice, he also founded and funds several charitable organizations: the Michelson Medical Research Foundation,[6] a medical research foundation which primarily focuses on genetic research, Twenty Million Minds Foundation[7] a comprehensive library of higher education textbooks in an open architecture platform to replace the costly textbooks for purchase system currently in use, and Found Animals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation dedicated to animal welfare.[8]

In 2008, Michelson's foundation launched the Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology[9][10] an international competition with a 25 million dollar prize that represents a unique experiment in innovation aimed at solving the problem of pet overpopulation. His goal is to encourage researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields to take on the challenge of non-surgical pet sterilization. Recognizing that interested parties may not have access to funds the research and testing would require, also offered is the companion Michelson Grants in Reproductive Biology that will provide up to $50 million in funding for promising research. The Michelson Prize seeks to make sterilization accessible and affordable worldwide and aid developing countries where this problem is even greater.

Through his foundations, Dr. Michelson has donated over 100 million dollars for medical research, over ten million dollars in helping to convert municipal animal services into adoption centers and providing no cost spay and neuter services to low income households. In a program directly acknowledged by the L.A. Mayor’s office, Dr. Michelson’s Found Animals Foundation paid for all the costs of anyone who would rescue a dog or cat scheduled for euthanasia. It is estimated that Dr. Michelson has devoted a total of $300 million to various causes.[7]

In January 2014 it was announced that Michelson gifted $50 million to the University of Southern California for the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience.[11] [12] [13]

Personal life[edit]

He is divorced from his first wife and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Alya, and their two children.[14][15]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Member of the board of Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
  • Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2011 [16]
  • Finalist in the National Inventor of the Year Awards (multiple years)
  • Recipient of the 2006 Paralyzed Veterans of America Award for the Outstanding Medical Research in the field of spinal disorders
  • Letter of Recognition from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for philanthropic contributions to the City of Los Angeles

Articles and speaking engagements[edit]

  • Dr. Gary Michelson Funding The Development Of A Soil-Transmitted Helminth Vaccine Discovery Program.[17]
  • Keynote Speaker for the California Regional Independent Inventors Conference in August 2011.[18]
  • Keynote Speaker for the 60th California State Science Fair competition in Los Angeles in May 2011.
  • Open letter to the United States Senate on Patent Reform, read in the Congressional Record on February 28, 2011 by the Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.[19]
  • 2010 Public Advocate as Independent Inventor for Patent Reform[20]
  • 2010 Invited Participant at the United States Patent and Trademark Office Forum on Quality Control in the U.S.P.T.O. Patent examination process.
  • Invited Lecturer on patent reform at USPTO-PPAC Forum on May 19, 2010


  1. ^ Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Gary Michelson September 2013
  2. ^ Forbes Israel: Jewish Billionaires - Profile of Gary Michelson April 14, 2013 (in Hebrew)
  3. ^ Pollack, Andrew (April 23, 2005). "Medtronic to Pay $1.35 Billion to Inventor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  4. ^ Whelan, David (October 6, 2008). "Animal Nut". Forbes. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  5. ^ "5 Costly Moments in Electronic Discovery: A rundown on the precedents that shaped the landscape for litigators.". The National Law Journal. February 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  6. ^ "Michelson Medical Research Foundation-What We Do". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  7. ^ a b Helfand, Duke (June 5, 2011). "How I Made It: Dr. Gary Michelson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  8. ^ Peters, Sharon L. (October 15, 2008). "Inventor Michelson offers $75M for a way to sterilize pets". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  9. ^ "The Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology". Found Animals. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  10. ^ Grimm, David (September 18, 2009). "A Cure for Euthanasia?". Science 325 (5947): 1490–1493. doi:10.1126/science.325_1490. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  11. ^ "USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2015-03-12. 
  12. ^ Perkins, Robert (January 13, 2014). "$50 million gift funds new building for convergent bioscience research at USC". USC News. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  13. ^ Staff, MMRF (April 27, 2014). "USC Michelson Center: Inventor donates $50 million". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2015-03-12. 
  14. ^ Cole, Yoji (2014-01-01). "Gary Michelson: A Beautiful Mind". C-Suite Quarterly. Retrieved 2015-03-12. 
  15. ^ 20 Million Minds Foundation: "Dr. Gary Michelson & Alya Michelson Biography" retrieved March 12, 2015
  16. ^ Quinn, Gene (May 5, 2011). "Celebrating Heroes of Invention at the Temple of Innovation". Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  17. ^ Hecht, Albert (July 18, 2013). "Dr. Gary Michelson Funding The Developement Of A Soil-Transmitted Helminth Vaccine Discovery Program". Jewish Business News. Retrieved 2015-03-12. 
  18. ^ Kirik, Cathie. California Regional Independent Inventors Conference Speakers "National Inventor Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Gary Michelson will be on hand to provide practical advice and information for novice and seasoned inventors.". Inventors Eye [USPTO]. Retrieved 2015-03-12. 
  19. ^ Michelson, Gary (February 25, 2011). "Gary Michelson’s Letter to Congress Supporting Patent Reform". IP Watchdog. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  20. ^ Eisner, Walter (September 21, 2011). "Historic Patent Reform Bill Signed Into Law". Retrieved 2011-11-29. 

External links[edit]