Dr. Gary Michelson

Dr. Gary K. Michelson with his adopted dog

Dr. Michelson was born in Philadelphia and raised, along with his three brothers, by his mother and grandmother, who suffered from a crippling spinal deformity. At age seventeen he began working, sometimes multiple jobs, to put himself through college and medical school. Dr. Michelson completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Hahnemann Medical Hospital and subsequently completed a fellowship in spinal surgery at St. Luke's Medical Center, in association with Texas Medical Center and Baylor University.

Deeply influenced by his grandmother's spinal defect, Dr. Michelson became a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and a diplomat of the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Dissatisfied early in his career with the low success rates of spinal surgery procedures, he spent the next twenty-one years developing implants, instruments and procedures that would vastly improve the outcome of spinal surgeries.

Dr. Michelson's dedication has resulted in more than 250 United States Patents on instruments, methods and devices relating to advances in spinal surgery, or to the more general field of orthopedic surgery. Dr. Michelson's patented technology includes over 955 issued or pending patent applications throughout the world, almost all of which are related to treatment of spinal disorders. Dr. Michelson is the sole inventor of the most widely used innovations in spinal surgery today. His inventions have made spinal surgery safer, faster, more effective and less expensive than the procedures they replaced. Michelson technology has been licensed by eighteen United States-based manufacturers of medical devices. Millions of patients have benefited from these inventions, and sales are estimated to be in excess of 1.5 billion dollars per year.

Even after retiring from private practice, Dr. Michelson has not lost his passion for helping others. He founded, and is the sole benefactor, of the Medical Research Foundation Trust, Michelson Medical Research Foundation, Found Animals Foundation and the Twenty Million Minds Foundation.

Since 1995, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation has been vital to advancing convergent medical research. With an average of 15 years of research and exorbitant financial cost needed to bring innovative medical solutions to market, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation overcomes these obstacles by developing solutions to global health issues through forward-thinking initiatives in medical science.

Most recently, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation donated $50 million dollars to the University of Southern California to fund the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, a facility that will unite experts across disciplines for innovative and collaborative research. Additionally, the Michelson Foundation funds the $75 million dollar Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology.

Through his foundations, Dr. Michelson has donated over $100 million dollars for cutting-edge medical research in areas of genetic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord regeneration, infertility and others, with a particular interest in the application of MRNA Interference technology as it relates to these areas of medical research. Dr. Michelson is the largest private underwriter of the Sabin Vaccine Institute's research and development program for the world's first quadravalent antihelminthic (anti-parasite) vaccine. More than one billion of the world's poorest people, many of them children, are afflicted with the debilitating burden of parasitic worms.

Dr. Michelson, through the Found Animals Foundation, has developed and supported programs to save companion animals' lives, and to improve their living conditions. The Foundation has programs aimed at converting municipal animal services from places where discarded and unwanted pets are destroyed, to facilities where they can instead be adopted into loving homes. In a program directly acknowledged by the L.A. Mayor's office, the Foundation paid all costs for anyone rescuing a dog or cat scheduled for euthanasia at participating facilities. In another life-saving program, Dr. Michelson paid the adoption fees for a second companion cat for anyone adopting a first one.

As an alternative to conventional pet shops that profit from selling dogs procured from puppy mills, Found Animals Foundation has pioneered humane model "Adopt & Shops," rescuing animals that would have been destroyed at animal shelters, and instead, showcasing them in an inviting retail space. These rescued pets are groomed, obedience trained, sterilized, immunized, certified as healthy and adopted out to good homes and families. The Foundation also sponsors low and no cost micro-chipping and registry programs so that lost pets get returned to their owners instead of destroyed in local shelters. Found Animals Foundation researches, develops, and provides "best practices" for public use as it relates to companion animal welfare.

Dr. Michelson also instituted the Twenty Million Minds Foundation to help make college more accessible and affordable by creating high quality, interactive, free downloadable textbooks. Another program replaces heavy textbooks with very low cost, nearly indestructible table-like devices that could be issued in grade one and kept through grade twelve. This has the potential of saving state governments more than the ten billion dollars per year they are currently spending for printed textbooks, which deteriorate and become outdated. Yet another program explores remedial education within the prison system in order to give those in prison the education required to function in society and stay out of prison. Twenty Million Minds Foundation is also collaborating with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to create the first free downloadable textbook entitled, "A Practical Understanding of Intellectual Property," as well as a fully developed course in intellectual property for use in schools; and a video series.

Dr. Michelson also funds entrepreneurial competitions at a number of business schools, including The Wharton School, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Awards & Honors

  • Member of the board of the Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owners Association
  • May 4, 2011 Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.
  • One of the finalists in the National Inventor of the Year Awards (presented by the Intellectual Property Owners Association) in multiple years
  • Recipient of the 2006 Paralyzed Veterans of America Award for the Outstanding Medical Research in the field of spinal disorders
  • Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Letter of Recognition (2003) for Dr. Michelson's philanthropic Contributions to the City of Los Angeles.

Articles & Speaking Engagements

  • Keynote Speaker for the California Regional Independent Inventors Conference in August, 2011
  • Keynote Speaker for the May, 2011 60th California State Science Fair competition in Los Angeles, California
  • An open letter to the United States Senate on Patent Reform was read into the Congressional Record on February 28, 2011 by the Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • 2010 Public Advocate as Independent Inventor for Patent Reform (see attached letter to the Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee and the Senator's response).
  • 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.
  • USPTAO-PPAC Forum (May 20, 2010) – Invited lecturer on patent reform
  • Invited guest speaker on patent reform at the United States Patent and Trademark Office Advisory Committee Meeting (P.P.A.C.) (2009)
    Publisher: Thieme 2005
  • 2005 Invited Keynote Speaker at the CLEO Workshop
  • Invited speaker to testify before Congress of the United States on regulatory oversight of the Food and Drug Administration chaired by the Honorable Joseph Barton (testimony published in the 1995 congressional record).
  • Wall Street Journal (July 24, 1995 – Subject of a front page story recognizing Dr. Michelson's creativity and inventorship.
  • American Scientist (July-August 1995) – Included in article recognizing Dr. Michelson's creativity and inventorship.


  • 2011 Invited by Barack Obama President of the United States to the White House Rose Garden Signing Ceremony for the America Invents Act.