Michael Milken has always focused on disrupting – and improving – the status quo, whether in medical research, finance, public health or education. In 1972, three years after he began a legendary Wall Street career, his mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. That began his search for medical solutions, an effort recognized in the 2004 Fortune magazine cover story “The Man Who Changed Medicine.”
Milken formalized his previous philanthropy in 1982 by co-founding the Milken Family Foundation, a major force for education reform and teacher recognition and for worldwide research on such medical issues as pediatric neurology, nutrition, brain and breast cancers, and leukemia. Milken is also the founder and chairman of FasterCures, which works to remove bureaucratic and regulatory barriers to progress against all life-threatening diseases.
Among other medical initiatives, Milken founded the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic funder of research on that disease, and he joined leading physicians in launching the Melanoma Research Alliance to accelerate progress against fatal skin cancers. Death rates from both these diseases have declined dramatically.
The Milken Family Foundation’s coveted $25,000 Milken Educator Awards, called the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher magazine, is the largest such program in the U.S. and since 1985 has honored more than 2,600 K-12 teachers and principals in partnership with state departments of education.
Milken chairs the widely respected Milken Institute, a non-partisan economic think tank whose annual Global Conference brings 3,500 thought leaders and decision makers from 50+ nations to Los Angeles. Other conferences are held annually in London, New York and Singapore.
George Washington University recently announced the newly named Milken Institute School of Public Health in recognition of a gift from the Institute.
As a financier, Milken revolutionized capital markets by pricing and rewarding risk more efficiently. This democratized capital by expanding access for smaller companies. A Washington Post column said he “helped create the conditions for America’s explosion of wealth and creativity,” a process Business Week said “shook America’s defeatist Establishment out of its gloom.” Starting in 1969, he financed more than 3,200 companies that created millions of jobs. An article in The New York Times said, “Mr. Milken helped create a new generation of companies and an entirely new way to finance nascent ideas that have helped fuel the global economy.”
Mike (what everyone calls him) graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with highest distinction and earned his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Mike and his wife Lori, who have three children and eight grandchildren, celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this year.
Further details are available at www.mikemilken.com.