Dr. Gary Michelson

Founder of the Michelson 20MM Foundation and Publisher of The Intangible Advantage.

About Dr. Gary Michelson

dr-gary-michelsonGary Karlin Michelson, M.D., is a distinguished Board Certified Orthopedic Spinal Surgeon and a Diplomate of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, who has devoted his life to helping others.

Dr. Michelson was born and raised in Philadelphia. At 17 years of age, he worked to put himself through college, and later, through medical school. He attended Temple University and Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University) followed by a fellowship in spinal surgery at St. Luke’s, a joint program of Texas Medical Center in association with Baylor University.

Disappointed with the very low success rates and unreliability of the spinal surgical procedures at that time, he spent the next 20 years developing new implants, surgical procedures, and the instruments required to carry out those procedures. These technological breakthroughs have made spinal surgery far less invasive and far more effective.

The Michelson procedures diminished the blood loss, pain, disability, and recovery time associated with the older procedures. These new procedures require minimal hospital time even to the point where many of them can be done on an outpatient basis. The likelihood of success for these newer procedures has been consistently very high, and the time for return to full activity has been substantially reduced. Throughout the world these new procedures have become the most dominant means of treating both the common spinal disorders as well as those which are the most debilitating. Millions of patients have already benefitted from these inventions.

Dr. Michelson is the most prolific inventor in the history of medicine, and is the sole named inventor of more than 950 already issued patents throughout the world. He is one of very few people ever inducted into both the National Inventors Hall of Fame as well as the National Academy of Inventors.

Philanthropic Work

Michelson Medical Research Foundation

Michelson Medical Research Foundation

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation was established by Dr. Gary Michelson in 2005 with an initial gift of 100 million dollars. The foundation funds cutting edge medical research that would be considered too avant garde to be funded by NIH or likely to receive funding by other conventional sources.

Michelson Found Animals Foundation

Michelson Found Animals Foundation

The Michelson Found Animals Foundation, (FAF), also founded in 2005, is directly involved in saving and improving the lives of companion animals. Michelson FAF is decreasing the number of animals coming into the municipal animal shelters to be euthanized by creating and funding both free and low cost spay & neuter facilities including mobile units to bring those services to where the need is the greatest.

Dr. Michelson and FAF were the main drivers and supporters of the creation and qualification of the California Pet Lovers License Plate, with funds going to support zero cost spay and neuter services.

FAF also provides microchips and registration for the life of the animal at zero or extremely low cost so that lost pets can be returned to their owners rather than be euthanized. Foundation grants and awards have been used to raise millions of dollars for use by the local shelters and rescues.

In another program the foundation goes into the municipal animal shelters and collects animals that would have been euthanized the following day and adopts them out from their own Adopt and Shops. Michelson Found Animals has grown substantially, and its 60 full-time employees and several hundred volunteers have touched the lives of 1.5 million pets and counting.

Michelson 20MM Foundation

Michelson 20MM Foundation

Finally, founded in 2010, The Michelson 20MM Foundation has been catalytic in increasing access, affordability, and efficacy in higher education through the use of innovative technologies and new educational models.

It’s $1.5 million grant to Openstax College in 2010 provided for the creation of the first high quality, digital, fully downloadable and interactive college level textbooks available to students at zero cost.

With research showing over two-thirds of college students opting out of buying textbooks, and of those students, 94 percent say they suffer academically, addressing the broken textbook market has been of critical importance to the Michelson 20MM Foundation.

The Openstax College textbooks correspond to more than 50% of the courses required at the community college level for the first two years of a four-year program. The initiative’s first 7 textbooks adopted for use in nearly 900 courses at community colleges, four-year colleges, universities, and high schools have saved students more that $13 million. Openstax plans to expand its library to 21 titles by 2017.

Michelson Runway

Michelson Runway

Michelson 20MM also founded the first philanthropic higher education accelerator focused on social impact investing. Ultimately, the goal is to serve as the bridge that connects institutions, innovators, and policymakers solving the most pressing issues in postsecondary and vocational education so that all students around the world should have access to an affordable, equitable, and high-quality education that leads to a meaningful career.

Inspired by its benefactor’s robust career Michelson 20MM also led the development of in­ depth intellectual property book, video series, and course, aimed at ordinary citizens with the guidance of highly knowledgeable consultants in patent law. The Intangible Advantage fills a great need in American education with a commitment to educate young people today on the basics of intellectual property and its value and role in science, business, arts, and the professions in today’s knowledge economy.

Additional Contributions


Dr. Michelson has also personally funded two major reforestation programs resulting in the planting of more than seven million trees on approximately 50 square miles.

America Invests Act

In conjunction with many others and on behalf of independent inventors, Dr. Michelson worked to help shape and ultimately to have passed the America Invents Act of 2011. In recognition of his efforts Dr. Michelson was invited by President Obama to attend the signing of that historical legislation at the White House.

$50MM USC Bioscience Center Grant

In 2014 Dr. Michelson and his wife Alya personally gifted 50 million dollars to the University of Southern California to fund the creation of a convergent bioscience center to produce real world medical breakthroughs in real time.

Dr. Michelson has been a longtime promoter and supporter of entrepreneurial competitions at various business schools throughout the country.

Sabin Institute

Dr. Gary Michelson is also the largest private underwriter of the Sabin Institute’s research program to develop immunizing vaccines against the various parasitic worms that afflict more than one billion of the world’s most destitute people, mostly women and children, to devastating effect.

Awards and Honors

Paralyzed Veterans Award

In 2006, Dr. Michelson received Paralyzed Veterans of America Award for outstanding medical research in the field of spinal disorders.

America Invents Act

Also in 2011, he was invited by President Obama to the White House to witness the signing of the America Invents Act.

Albert B. Sabin Award

In 2015, he received the Albert B. Sabin Humanitarian Award for his innovations that have enabled millions of people to live healthier, more productive lives.

IP Owners Association

Dr. Michelson has been a member of the board of the Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owners Association since 2010.

National Inventors Hall of Fame

In 2011, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.

National Academy of Inventors

2014, Dr. Michelson was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.

B’nai B’rith International Distinguished Achievement Award

In 2016, Dr. Michelson received the B’nai B’rith International Distinguished Achievement Award for his service and dedicated leadership to improving people’s lives.