"It All Started At BHSU"

After 18 years of formal education, Lt. Col. Brett Theeler, MD, calls his neuroscience class with Dr. Charlie Lamb at BHSU, his “absolute favorite class of (his) entire life at any level of education.” Theeler turned neuroscience into his career. He currently serves as deputy chief of the Department of Neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Theeler graduated from BHSU in 2001 with a degree in biology. He remembers choosing to study in Jonas Hall because Dr. Lamb would frequently stop by study sessions there to see if students had questions. Dr. Lamb would take to the board and answer the students questions, well after business hours.

“When you have faculty who care that much about your education, something changes inside you. For me, I stopped trying to understand what I was learning; I tried to master it. I did not leave BHSU with aspirations; I left with a professional destiny,” says Theeler.

Originally from Mitchell, S.D., Theeler was the first recipient of the $40,000 Joseph and Martha Nelson Scholarship that is still awarded annually to a high-achieving BHSU student in the sciences. He joined the Army after college and completed medical school at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and served in Afghanistan in 2013.

As the only fellowship-trained neuro-oncologist in the Department of Defense, Theeler cares for patients with incurable types of brain cancer. He sees patients from around the world for second opinions and clinical trial evaluations as a clinical collaborator at the National Cancer Institute.

He says he is motivated each day to do better and be better for his patients.

“For me, that means flying out of bed early in the morning to turn my attention immediately to the patients I need to take care of and spending extra time to work out that new clinical trial that may help my future patients,” says Theeler.

BHSU awarded Theeler an Honorary Doctorate of Science during the Spring Commencement Ceremony. An Honorary Doctorate is the highest honor bestowed by the South Dakota Board of Regents and BHSU for outstanding service and exemplary achievements within the recipient’s fields of endeavor.

With the help of his colleagues at Walter Reed and the National Cancer Institute, Theeler has significantly improved access to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary neuro-oncologic care.

“It all started at BHSU,” he says.