Gary K. Michelson : biography
Dr. Gary K. Michelson (born January 14, 1949) is an American board certified orthopedic spinal surgeon and inventor.
He is the inventor of a number of surgical instruments, operative methods and medical implants. Unhappy with the low success rates associated with spinal surgery procedures at the beginning of his career, he spent countless hours developing better implants, instruments and procedures that would enable spinal surgeons to cure a greater proportion of spinal ailments. "Michelson devices" have been implanted globally in hundreds of thousands of patients. He has over 250 U.S. Patents on instruments, methods and devices for advances in spinal and orthopedic surgery and over 950 issued or pending patents worldwide for instruments, operative procedures, and medical devices related to the treatment of spinal disorders. Dr. Michelson is the sole inventor of the most widely used innovations in spinal surgery to date – affecting the lives of millions of patients. His inventions have made spinal surgery safer, faster, more effective and less expensive.
In 2005, as the inventor, he sold ownership of many of his spine related patents to Medtronic for a price over $1 billion, catapulting him onto the Forbes 400 where he has since remained. His defense of a patent lawsuit by Medtronic established a major legal precedent in 2003, governing who bears the cost of pre-trial discovery of electronic evidence.
Articles & Speaking Engagements
- Keynote Speaker for the California Regional Independent Inventors Conference in August 2011.
- Keynote Speaker for the 60th California State Science Fair competition in Los Angeles in May 2011.
- Open letter to the United States Senate on Patent Reform, read in 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
- 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.
- Invited Lecturer on patent reform at USPTO-PPAC Forum on May 19, 2010
Divorced without children, he shares a five-bedroom home outside Los Angeles with three rescued dogs. June 5, 2011
Awards & Honors
- Member of the board of Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
- Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2011
- Finalist in the National Inventor of the Year Awards (multiple years)
- Recipient of the 2006 Paralyzed Veterans of America Award for the Outstanding Medical Research in the field of spinal disorders
- Letter of Recognition from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for philanthropic contributions to the City of Los Angeles
Early life and education
Michelson and his three brothers were raised by his mother and grandmother. His grandmother suffered a crippling spinal deformity, which led him to dedicate his life to improving the lives of those afflicted with spinal ailments. He attended Central High School of Philadelphia, Temple University and Hahnemann Medical College. He completed his medical residency in orthopedic surgery at Hahnemann Medical Hospital and then had fellowship training in spinal surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center in a joint program between Baylor University and the University of Texas. He has been a practicing spinal surgeon for over 25 years and has over 110 research papers and publications to his credit.
Since retirement from private practice, he also founded and funds several charitable organizations: the Medical Research Foundation Trust, Michelson Medical Research Foundation, a medical research foundation which primarily focuses on genetic research, Twenty Million Minds Foundation a comprehensive library of higher education textbooks in an open architecture platform to replace the costly textbooks for purchase system currently in use, and Found Animals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation dedicated to animal welfare.
In 2008, Michelson's foundation launched the Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology an international competition that represents a unique experiment in innovation aimed at solving the problem of pet overpopulation. His goal is to encourage researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields to take on the challenge of non-surgical pet sterilization. He is hopeful that a $25 million incentive will motivate scientists. Recognizing that interested parties may not have access to funds the research and testing would require, also offered is the companion Michelson Grants in Reproductive Biology that will provide up to $50 million in funding for promising research. The Michelson Prize seeks to make sterilization accessible and affordable worldwide and aid developing countries where this problem is even greater. Through his foundations, Dr. Michelson has donated over 100 million dollars for cutting edge medical research, over ten million dollars in helping to convert municipal animal services into more successful adoption centers and providing no cost spay and neuter services to low income households. In a program directly acknowledged by the L.A. Mayor’s office, Dr. Michelson’s Found Animals Foundation paid for all the costs of anyone who would rescue a dog or cat scheduled for euthanasia.
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