Gary K. Michelson
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Gary K. Michelson
|Alma mater||Temple University|
Hahnemann Medical College
|Net worth||US $ 1.7 billion (March 2020)|
Early life and education
Michelson and his three brothers were raised in Philadelphia by his mother and grandmother, whose struggles with syringomyelia inspired his interest in spinal ailments. After graduating Central High School of Philadelphia in 1966, he attended Temple University and Hahnemann Medical College of Drexel University, until finishing his medical residency in orthopedic surgery at Hahnemann Medical Hospital in 1979. Michelson then completed his fellowship training in spinal surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center, in a joint program between Baylor University and the University of Texas. He was a practicing spinal surgeon for over 25 years before retiring from private practice to focus on philanthropy.
Seeing the low success rates associated with spinal surgery procedures early in his career, Michelson developed new implants, instruments and procedures aimed at enabling spinal surgeons to more precisely and effectively treat spinal ailments. These technologies, often recognized in the medical profession as "Michelson Devices", assist in surgical procedures by decreasing blood loss, incision size, and addressing other critical factors, allowing for more reliable, less invasive treatments.Michelson is the sole credited inventor on over 950 issued or pending patents worldwide related to the treatment of spinal disorders.
A legal battle with Medtronic over the origins of the patents preceded the sale. In 2004, Michelson cross-filed in response to Medtronic's 2001 suit, and was awarded financial damages for both lawsuits by the jury. The legal defense against Medtronic's suit established a major legal precedent in 2004, governing who bears the cost of pre-trial discovery of electronic evidence.
Michelson announced his intent to launch a medical philanthropic venture in a 2005 New York Times article. The Gary Karlin Michelson, M.D. Charitable Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1995 and was later renamed the Michelson Medical Research Foundation in 2005. The nonprofit does not accept donations.
After reading an article in the Los Angeles Times by Sabin Vaccine Institute President Peter Hotez, Michelson became one of the principal supporters of the Institute's fight against neglected tropical diseases, giving birth to the Michelson Neglected Disease Vaccine Initiative. Michelson said he "felt compelled to support efforts to develop a vaccine against the four most devastating parasitic worm infections because more than one billion innocent people, many of them small children, are unnecessarily plagued by these neglected diseases."
In 2011, Michelson created the Twenty Million Minds Foundation, originally a comprehensive library of higher education textbooks in an open education platform and now an education startup incubator.
In 2008, Michelson's Found Animals foundation launched the Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology an international competition with a monetary prize aimed at solving the problem of pet overpopulation. Researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields took on the challenge of non-surgical pet sterilization. Recognizing that interested parties might not have access to the funds that the research and testing would require, a companion organization, Michelson Grants in Reproductive Biology, provided limited funding for research. The Michelson Prize seeks to make sterilization accessible and affordable worldwide and aid developing countries.
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. The venue opened its doors on November 1, 2017.
In February 2016, through his organization, the 20MM Michelson Foundation, Michelson released a variety of intellectual property tools including a series of videos that foreshadowed the publication of a proper intellectual property textbook.
Michelson was a contributing author of the free comprehensive textbook The Intangible Advantage: Understanding Intellectual Property in the New Economy. Released on May 22, 2016, the textbook is devoted to intellectual property topics and was written specifically for non-lawyers and undergraduate students. It includes a working explanation of patents, copyrights and trademarks. In 2019, he presented as a guest speaker at The Future of Intellectual Property: Examining IP in a Changing World. In 2020, he presented as the keynote speaker at the third Intellectual Property Awareness Summit at UC Berkeley.
In a companion project, Michelson created a complete undergraduate college course, "The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Intellectual Property", which has been taught at the USC Marshall School of Business via its Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Santa Monica College since August 2017.
On October 30, 2017, at Leveraging Intellectual Property In Today's Knowledge Economy, a kick-off event which took place at the University of Southern California, the new Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property was announced. The new institute oversees the earlier Intangible Advantage IP course and provides resources for both educators and students of the program. It also offers the option of becoming an ambassador for the institute.
In 2017, Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson, through the MMRF and the Human Vaccines Project, launched Michelson Prizes, which dispense $150,000 awards to specifically support out-of-the-box, high risk, high return, medically relevant research by scientists under the age of 36. Dr. Michelson partnered with the Human Vaccine Project to judge the Researcher Competition. The 2020 Michelson Prizes were awarded to Dr. Danika Hill, research fellow at Australia's Monash University, and Dr. Michael Birnbaum, assistant professor at MIT.
On October 24, 2018, the seminar, Hacking IP: Considerations for Startups and Entrepreneurs, the first event in a year-long multi-city program, took place in Downtown Los Angeles and featured such ambassadors as Nathan Khalil, Benjamin Kuo, Carmen Palafox and Thomas Peistrup.
On January 18, 2019, the California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, a non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Judie Mancuso, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, actor Pierce Brosnan and his wife Keely Shaye Smith, announced an initial round of grants benefiting low income families in need of spay or neuter for their pet.
Since 2017, Dr. Michelson has funded and successfully advanced legislation for various pet-related laws, in partnership with Social Compassion in Legislation. Those laws have included:
- A bill ending the practice of pet shops sourcing animals from out of state farms, and AB 485, a companion bill requiring all pet shops in California to source their animals from local shelters and rescue groups.
- The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetic Act, banning the sale of cosmetics tested on animals.
- The Circus Cruelty Prevention Act, banning the use of animals in California circus shows.
- California Law AB 1260, which ends the practice of commercial fur trapping, and bans the sale of all products made from the hides of exotic animals. The bill was designed to thwart an attempt by others to allow the sale of alligator and crocodile products in the state.
Michelson lives in Los Angeles with his wife Alya, and their three children.
In the December 2015 issue of Forbes magazine, Michelson was featured alongside Warren Buffett, William A. Ackman, Michael Milken and Michael J. Fox as one of "10 People with Big Ideas to Change the World".
In December 2018, Michelson appeared on the cover of CSQ C-Suite Quarterly Magazine and was awarded the Visionary of the Year Award in Philanthropy. The award ceremony took place in New York City on February 5, 2019.
Michelson was also interviewed on the Positive Phil Podcast about his personal, professional and philanthropical contributions.
Michelson was also featured on the Adam Mendler podcast.
- America's Needed Medical Revolution, US News & World Report. July 2020.
- Here’s a bold plan for California to provide internet access to everyone, Calmatters September 2020.
- Transform higher education — make textbooks free, EdSource (with Hal Plotkin) October 2020.
- Philanthropy should help fund exceptional young scientists, STAT (with Wayne Koff) November 2020.
Awards and honors
-  Recipient of the 2018 Visionary of the Year Award in Philanthropy from CSQ / C-Suite Quarterly Magazine.
-  Recipient of the 2017 Innovation Award for Technology from the Los Angeles County Medical Association.
-  Recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California.
-  L.A. County Letter of Appreciation to USC Michelson namesakes: Gary & Alya Michelson.
-  Recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award from B'nai B'rith International for his commitment to philanthropy, humanitarian assistance and community leadership.
-  Recipient of the 2015 Albert. B Sabin Humanitarian Award in recognition of his extraordinary philanthropy and commitment toward the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) through high-level advocacy and vaccine research and development.
-  Inducted into the National Academy of Inventors on March 7, 2014 in recognition of exceptional accomplishments in innovation and invention to benefit society.
-  Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2011.
-  Member of the board of Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owners Association since July 2010.
-  Recipient of the 2006 Paralyzed Veterans of America Award for Outstanding Medical Research in the Field of Spinal Disorders.
- Forbes profile: Gary Michelson 2 March 2020
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- "Notable Alumni – Central High School". Retrieved 2020-12-30.
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- Javid, M. J.; Hadar, E. J. (July 1998). "Long-term follow-up review of patients who underwent laminectomy for lumbar stenosis: a prospective study". Journal of Neurosurgery. 89 (1): 1–7. doi:10.3171/jns.1998.89.1.0001. ISSN 0022-3085. PMID 9647165.
- Tuite, Gerald F.; et al. (1994). "Outcome after laminectomy for lumbar spinal stenosis: Part I: Clinical correlations". Journal of Neurosurgery. 81.5 (1994) (5): 699–706. doi:10.3171/jns.1994.81.5.0699. PMID 7755690.
- "Gary K. Michelson Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". patents.justia.com. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
- "Michelson Technology at Work". Medtronic. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
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- "Gary Michelson: How One "Unreasonable" Man Used Patents to Create Change". IPO Education Foundation. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
- Gammon, Katharine. "Gary Michelson: Man with a Plan". USC News. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
- Pollack, Andrew (April 23, 2005). "Medtronic to Pay $1.35 Billion to Inventor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Whelan, David (October 6, 2008). "Animal Nut". Forbes. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
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- "Big Suits: Michelson vs. Medtronic | News | Kirkland & Ellis LLP". www.kirkland.com. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
- "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.
- Pollack, Andrew. "Medtronic to Pay $1.35 Billion to Inventor". Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- "What We Do". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "Pet Microchipping & Adoption | Michelson Found Animals Foundation". www.foundanimals.org. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- "Our Mission - Michelson Found Animals Foundation | Pet Adoption, Microchipping, Spay & Neuter". www.foundanimals.org. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- Hotez, Peter (December 12, 2010). "Diseases we can stop, but don't". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "Michelson Neglected Disease Vaccine Initiative | MMRF". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- "Michelson Neglected Disease Vaccine Initiative [Sabin]". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- Helfand, Duke (June 5, 2011). "How I Made It: Dr. Gary Michelson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- "Michelson Runway - Incubator supporting innovations in higher education and career training". Runway / Michelson 20MM Foundation. Archived from the original on 2016-05-06. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
- Grimm, David (September 18, 2009). "A Cure for Euthanasia?". Science. 325 (5947): 1490–1493. doi:10.1126/science.325_1490. PMID 19762620.
- "Michelson Grants - Michelson Prize Grants | Found Animals Foundation | Research Grants". Michelson Prize Grants | Found Animals Foundation | Research Grants. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- "The Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology". Michelson Prize & Grants. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- Peters, Sharon L. (October 15, 2008). "Inventor Michelson offers a $75 million prize in a sterilization innovation contest, to create more effective and wide spread spaying and neutering of pets, with the ultimate goal of curbing animal overpopulation". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Helfand, Duke (June 5, 2011). "How I Made It: Dr. Gary Michelson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
- Perkins, Robert (January 13, 2014). "$50 million gift funds new building for convergent bioscience research at USC". USC News. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
- Gordon, Larry (January 13, 2014). "Surgeon and inventor gives $50 million for USC building". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
- Clay, Joanna (November 1, 2017). "USC's Michelson Hall, new center for convergent bioscience, makes its debut". USC News. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
- "Intellectual Property - Educational Video Series". The Michelson 20MM Foundation. YouTube. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
- "Innovation Lessons From a Billionaire| Patents & Patent Law". IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent Law. 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
- "Join us at The Future of Intellectual Property!". Michelson 20MM Foundation. 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
- News, E. I. N.; Berman, Bruce (2020-03-05). "IP Education: A Necessary Tool for All Students and Entrepreneurs, Says Leading Surgeon and Inventor". EIN News. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
- Foundation, The Michelson 20MM. "Supporting Entrepreneurship: Michelson 20MM Intellectual Property Initiative Expands to Community Colleges". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- Riggott, Julie (September 26, 2017). "Trade secrets need love, too: USC Marshall offers entrepreneur's guide to intellectual property". USC News.
- "SMC Develops Intellectual Property Curriculum for Community Colleges to Promote Entrepreneurship". Santa Monica College. October 27, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Michelson 20MM Foundation to Partner with the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding on IP Education Initiatives". The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU). August 21, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "An Engaging Discussion Kicks Off The Michelson Institute For Intellectual Property". PR Newswire/CISION. November 1, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Human Vaccine Project". Human Vaccine Project. Wayne.
- Foundation, Michelson Medical Research. "MIT, Monash University researchers awarded $150,000 Michelson Prizes for Human Immunotherapy and Vaccine Research". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
- "Intellectual Property Awareness Program for Entrepreneurs Kicks Off In L.A." GlobalNewsWire. October 24, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- Social Compassion in Legislation (January 18, 2019). "Specialty License Plate Featuring Pierce Brosnan's Artwork Will Now Save Lives". L.A. Biz. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- Mancuso, Judie (January 18, 2019). "California Spay & Neuter License Plate Featuring Actor Pierce Brosnan's Artwork Will Now Save The Lives Of Animals Throughout The State". WorldAnimalNews.com. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- "Aimee Gilbreath Talks About Law AB 485 | Michelson Found Animals". Found Animals. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
- "Bill Text - AB-485 Pet store operators: dogs, cats, and rabbits". leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- Legislation, Social Compassion in. "SB 1249 California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act SIGNED BY GOVERNOR BROWN". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
- "California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Takes Effect". Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- "Bill Text - SB-1249 Animal testing: cosmetics". leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- "GOVERNOR NEWSOM SIGNS AB 1260 AND SB 313 INTO LAW!". October 12, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
- "California Bill Prohibits Circuses From Using Wild Animals". Green Matters. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- "California outlaws new fur sales as Gavin Newsom signs first-in-the-nation ban". The Mercury News. 2019-10-12. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- "California becomes first state to ban the sale of new fur products". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
- "Alya Michelson [Bio]". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
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- "Billionaire Gary Michelson Is On The Positive Phil Podcast - The Californer". The Californer. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
- "Episode 12: Billionaire Inventor Dr. Gary Michelson — Adam Mendler in the Media". Adam Mendler. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
- "2018 Visionaries Awards in Philanthropy, Art, & Culture". CSQ / C-Suite Quarterly Magazine. February 5, 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
- "Recap of This Year's Los Angeles Healthcare Awards". Los Angeles County Medical Association. November 6, 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
- "Honorary Degree Recipients". commencement.usc.edu. Archived from the original on 19 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- USC (2017-05-12). "Gary K. Michelson; USC Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters (University of Southern California's 134th Commencement Ceremony)". YouTube. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
- Los Angeles County (2017-11-01). "@mridleythomas presents a letter of appreciation from @CountyofLA to #USCMichelson namesakes Gary and Alya Michelson". twitter. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
- Los Angeles County (2017-11-01). "Los Angeles County Chairman of the Board Mark Ridley-Thomas hands out an official Los Angeles County Letter of Appreciation dedicated to the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience namesakes Gary K. Michelson & Alya Michelson. (Credit: USC)". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
- "Jewish Journal: Dr. Gary K. Michelson – Inventor and life-saver". B'nai B'rith International. March 31, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
- Jones, Christopher Edward (June 25, 2015). "SABIN Humanitarian Award 2015: Gary K. Michelson". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
- Toves, Kelly (March 25, 2015). "Dr. Gary Michelson Receives Albert B. Sabin Humanitarian Award". SABIN Vaccine Institute. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
- "Current NAI Fellows". National Academy of Inventors. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "Gary K Michelson; National Academy of Inventors – Fellow Induction [2014-03-07]". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "Gary K. Michelson; Spinal Surgical Devices: US Patent No. 6,770,074 [National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction]". National Inventors Hall of Fame. May 4, 2011. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- Quinn, Gene (May 5, 2011). "Celebrating Heroes of Invention at the Temple of Innovation". IP Watchdog. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
- "IPO Foundation elects Foreman, Michel and Michelson to Board". Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation. July 23, 2010. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "IP Pros Named to IPO Education Foundation". Inventors Digest. July 23, 2010. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- "Gary K. Michelson; Honor in Health-Care Research [Paralyzed Veterans of America]". Michelson Medical Research Foundation. September 12, 2006. Retrieved 2016-05-02.