Gary Michelson, M.D.

Founder, Michelson 20MM Foundation

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.

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 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

Today, Dr. Michelson lives in California with his wife, Alya, their three children. Their focus is on their philanthropy and helping benefit people, pets, and our planet.