Milken Institute Honors Dr. Gary Michelson With Tommy Lasorda Leadership Award

Inventor and philanthropist Dr. Gary K. Michelson was honored with the Tommy Lasorda Leadership Award in Beverly Hills on the eve of the annual Milken Institute Global Conference.

Dr. Michelson was presented with the sixth Lasorda Leadership Award by Milken Institute Chairman Michael Milken at the 2024 Global Gourmet Games benefit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 4. Previous honorees include pioneers in business, medicine, sports, and philanthropy: Dr. Richard Merkin, Joe Torre, Precious & Patrice Motsepe, Cindy Citrone, and Igor Tulchinsky.

“I was shocked and in disbelief to receive this award from Mike Milken, a visionary and compassionate leader who has convened the world’s greatest minds to shape a shared future. We first met when I began to focus full time on philanthropy, and I am incredibly grateful for his guidance and friendship ever since,” said Michelson, who shared how he sought Milken’s counsel when he sold his portfolio of patents for more than $1 billion in 2005. “He taught me Milken’s laws of effective philanthropy,” Michelson added, “ Every time I’ve ever deviated from that, I regret it, and every time I’ve done what he’s told me, it’s turned out well. Thank you.”

Established by businessman and philanthropist Warren Lichtenstein and the Milken Institute in 2018, the Lasorda Leadership Award, named after the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, “recognizes individuals who embody Tommy’s legacy of leadership and management, a philosophy that applies across multiple disciplines. Leadership rules were always simple and straightforward. Love what you do and instill pride in those you lead. Appreciate what your team and your organization do for you. Be clear and honest in your communications. Put the team before the individual. And motivate your players to make sure they want it more than the other team – even if the other team had more talent.”

Gary K. Michelson, Global Gourmet Games 2024 Award

From left: Michael Milken, Warren Lichtenstein, Dr. Gary K Michelson, Laura Lasorda, Eric Karros, and Bobby Valentine

“This year, the man who richly deserves it is Gary Michelson,” said Milken when presenting the award. Referring to the newly established California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy (CIII), Milken added, “There’s a center here in Los Angeles that would have never existed—that will change the world and medical research—if it wasn’t for Gary’s tenacity…We secured a half-a-billion matching gift from the State of California and nothing would have happened if it was not for Gary’s persistence, insight, and vision. I thank you, Gary, for all the people on the planet.”

Dr. Michelson is renowned as a surgical innovator and the most prolific inventor in medical history, with nearly 1,000 patents. Millions worldwide benefit from his inventions, which revolutionized spinal surgery, making it safer and more effective. Dr. Michelson is one of the first physicians to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Inventors.

Since retiring from clinical practice, Dr. Michelson has devoted himself full-time to philanthropic initiatives with his wife, Alya. They co-chair Michelson Philanthropies, a network of private operating foundations to advance education, animal welfare, public policy, intellectual property, and medical research.

The Michelsons spearheaded transformative initiatives in medical innovation, including co-founding the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience and CIII, which will based at the UCLA Research Park, currently under development.

Dr. Michelson is the recipient of the Los Angeles County Medical Association’s Innovation Award for Technology and the Albert B. Sabin Humanitarian Award for his efforts to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases. With his wife Alya, the Michelsons received the 2022 Humanitarian Award from the Inner City Law Center and the 2024 Humanitarian Award from the World Brain Mapping Foundation.


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