Gary K. Michelson
Dr. Gary K. Michelson
Co-chair & Co-founder
As a child, Dr. Gary K. Michelson always colored outside the lines. He was infinitely curious about how things worked, and uncommonly sensitive to the needs of others. Raised by his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia, he was exposed to spinal disorders at a young age; his grandmother suffered from syringomyelia, a debilitating spinal deformity. The loss of pain sensation caused by this disease is the reason his grandmother seriously burned her hand when she inadvertently rested it on a hot stove. Witnessing this was a pivotal moment in Dr. Michelson’s young life, a moment where he began formulating a plan to help people afflicted with similar infirmities.
Revolutionizing systems to improve outcomes in orthopedic surgery
Despite his modest upbringing, Dr. Michelson worked his way through medical school and subsequently entered private practice in California as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. Over the next 25 years, he became world-renowned as a surgical innovator and the most prolific inventor in medical history, with over 990 patents worldwide.
In the field of spinal surgery, where outcomes are unpredictable and recovery could be long and painful, Dr. Michelson’s revolutionary advancements in procedures, instruments, and implants consistently led to better patient outcomes. The surgical techniques and materials he developed remain the global industry standard. Learn more at www.MichelsonMedicalPatents.org.
Dedication to Philanthropy
In 2005, the sale of his patents to Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device company, earned Dr. Michelson a place on the Forbes 400 as a self-made billionaire. That same year, Dr. Michelson began his philanthropic work, which spans across medical research, education, and animal welfare.
In 2016, Dr. Michelson signed The Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages the wealthiest individuals to contribute the majority of their fortune to philanthropic causes. Learn more about Dr. Michelson’s philanthropic work at www.MichelsonPhilanthropies.org.
Today, Dr. Michelson lives in California with his wife, Alya, their three children, and their two rescue dogs. Their focus is on their philanthropy, and helping benefit people, pets, and our planet.
Awards & Honors
Among his many awards, citations, and accomplishments, Dr. Michelson is one of only a handful to be inducted into both the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Inventors. Among a group of prominent inventors who supported the America Invents Act of 2011, Dr. Michelson was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama to witness the signing of that historic legislation. In May 2022, he and Alya Michelson received the Inner City Law Center’s Humanitarian Award for their philanthropic impact.
2022 | Humanitarian Award from the Inner City Law Center, along with Alya Michelson
2018 | Visionary of the Year Award in Philanthropy from CSQ / C-Suite Quarterly Magazine
2017 | Innovation Award for Technology from the Los Angeles County Medical Association; Recipient of an 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
2015 | Distinguished Achievement Award from B’nai B’rith International for his commitment to philanthropy, humanitarian assistance, and community leadership; Albert B. Sabin Humanitarian Award in recognition of his extraordinary philanthropy and commitment toward the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases through high-level advocacy and vaccine research and development
2014 | Inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in recognition of exceptional accomplishments in innovation and invention to benefit society
2011 | Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.
2010 | Member of the board of Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owners Association since July 2010
2006 | Recipient of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Award for Outstanding Medical Research in the Field of Spinal Disorders