Dr. Thorell receives endowed chair in neurosurgery

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | March 29, 2016

Image with caption: William Thorell, M.D.

William Thorell, M.D.

William Thorell, M.D., was awarded the Lyal G. Leibrock, M.D., Chair of Neurosurgery in a ceremony Friday night in the Linder Reading Room of the Sorrell Center.

A 1996 graduate of the UNMC College of Medicine with highest distinction, Dr. Thorell did his internship and residency in neurosurgery at UNMC and a two-year fellowship in endovascular surgical neuroradiology at the Cleveland Clinic. He joined the UNMC faculty in 2004 as assistant professor and was elevated to associate professor in 2011.

The endowed chair, which was created with $1 million in gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation, honors Dr. Leibrock, a legendary neurosurgeon who served on the UNMC faculty from 1978-2005 and was neurosurgery section chief for 17 years. Dr. Leibrock died in 2005 at the age of 64.

During his career, Dr. Leibrock was instrumental in raising money -- and donating his own money -- to help establish several professorships, chairs and resident funds designed to strengthen the section of neurosurgery.

Working with the foundation, Les Hellbusch, M.D., Dr. Leibrock's friend and neurosurgical colleague, started to raise funds for the endowed chair but didn't get all the money raised before Dr. Leibrock's death. Dr. Hellbusch promised his friend that he would complete the funding for the chair.

Much of the money raised for the endowed chair came from private practice neurosurgeons and neurologists in Nebraska as well as former residents and fellows who trained in the UNMC neurosurgery program.

"As someone who trained under Dr. Leibrock, I'm truly honored," Dr. Thorell said. "Lyal was so unique. There was no one like him. Our personas were alike. I see the world very similar to the way Lyal saw the world."

Among Dr. Thorell's numerous awards, he received the Kenneth M. Browne Neurosurgery Award (1996), the Excellence in Clinical Practice Award (2008), the Physician of Distinction Award (2008), the Early Career Achievement Award from the College of Medicine Alumni Association (2011), and the Special Professional Achievement Award from the College of Medicine in 2013. In addition, the Midlands Business Journal selected Dr. Thorell in its 2007 class of 40 Under 40.

The endowed chair was presented to Dr. Thorell by Dr. Leibrock's wife, Judi. Other speakers included Bradley Britigan, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine; Ken Follett, M.D., Ph.D., professor and the Keegan/Voelte Jr. Endowed Chair of Neurosurgery; and Dr. Hellbusch, clinical professor of neurosurgery.


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Johnny Skinner
April 01, 2016 at 2:53 PM

Congratulations my friend!

Amy Goldman
April 01, 2016 at 10:23 AM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell! A well-deserved honor for an amazing surgeon, teacher and colleague/friend. Thanks for all you do!

Jeanne Lincoln
April 01, 2016 at 7:56 AM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell. Esteemed recognition for years of dedication and achievement.

Dale L Dunham
March 31, 2016 at 9:47 PM

I am so glad to have had the luck and opportunity to have been in Dr Billy's brain lab. I am very happy that you have been the recipient of such a prestigious award.

Steve Ronspies
March 31, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell - not bad for a middle infielder...well deserved!

March 30, 2016 at 11:11 PM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell..

Sally Hammond
March 30, 2016 at 10:56 PM

Congratulations Dr Thorell. I can think of no one I would rather have treating my husband, Don Hammond than you. You are the best!

Katie Reisbig, PharmD
March 30, 2016 at 6:59 PM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell! You are an amazing surgeon & teacher, so well deserved.

Pat Mommsen
March 30, 2016 at 6:55 PM

Congratulations! it was an honor to work with you-no one is more deserving of this honor

Katie Wroblewski (Delaney)
March 30, 2016 at 6:18 PM

Way to go Bill! Well deserved!

Bill Bolte
March 30, 2016 at 5:37 PM

Congratulations, Bill! Most-deserving!

Diego Torres
March 30, 2016 at 3:08 PM

Bill! Congratulations. Well-deserved indeed. Best! Diego

Nancy Preston
March 30, 2016 at 1:59 PM

Tears of joy! How absolutely wonderful!

Holly Pierce
March 30, 2016 at 1:50 PM

As one of your patients Dr. Thorell. What an honor! Congratulations! Holly

Mark Burt
March 30, 2016 at 1:08 PM

Congratulations to a remarkable doctor and person

Charlene Hodges
March 30, 2016 at 9:54 AM

Congratulations Bill, you have made the whole old neighborhood proud as can be!

March 30, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell. It is an honor to know you and be able to work with you.

Dennis Thorell
March 30, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Bill, your dad once told me "This kid is going to be something!" So proud of you and he would be too! Uncle Dennis

Carol Gaebler
March 30, 2016 at 6:59 AM

Congratulations, Bill! We are so lucky to have you here at UNMC! Kudos on this well-deserved honor!

Connie Ogden
March 30, 2016 at 6:19 AM

Amazing man and surgeon! Congrats Dr. Thorell!!!

Sarina McNeel
March 30, 2016 at 1:05 AM

Congratulations! You are so deserving-so proud to work with you and care for your patients!

Kathy Wilkinson
March 30, 2016 at 12:05 AM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell. My husband Jim Wilkinson & I feel this is a deserved honor for you. We thank you for what you did for Jim, myself, & our family at UNMC.

JL Williams
March 29, 2016 at 11:46 PM

Dr. Thorell saved my friend Deborah's life after she had an aneurysm. Congratulations and thank you!

Carol Metzger
March 29, 2016 at 11:37 PM

Congratulations! No one is more deserving, speaking from a personal experience!

Dana Ratigan
March 29, 2016 at 10:57 PM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell.. no one better to receive this award!

Cyndi Nelson
March 29, 2016 at 10:25 PM

Congratulations on this well deserved honor!

jerold sorbel, CRNA
March 29, 2016 at 10:22 PM

Congratulations, Dr Thorell. I very much enjoyed working with you in my time at UMNC

Tami Fischer
March 29, 2016 at 10:07 PM

Congrats Dr. Thorell. You deserve it! Proud to have worked with you in the old days at Methodist O.R.

Kim Larsen
March 29, 2016 at 9:39 PM

You were the best surgery intern ever! Knew you'd go far. Your former 3rd year med student.

Kristi Kohl
March 29, 2016 at 7:56 PM

I couldn't agree more! As a medical student, I learned so much from Dr. Thorell even though I never was even on service with him. He was always teaching on the ward even in residency and had the ability to understand and distill the essence of complex ideas, and then explain them so well that the concepts seemed simple. Congratulations!

Melania Yeats
March 29, 2016 at 6:17 PM

Congratulations...perhaps it makes up for the seemingly endless hours we spent waiting for trauma CTs to be completed back in the 90s

Jonathan L. Vennerstrom
March 29, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Congratulations Dr. Thorell - well done!

Joyce Black
March 29, 2016 at 9:37 AM

Very well deserved, congratulations!

Ann Ashford
March 29, 2016 at 9:23 AM

Congratulations, Dr. Thorell, for this well deserved honor! It is a pleasure to know you.

Larry Mitchell
March 29, 2016 at 8:48 AM

Bill, proud to be your classmate! I was always early to class but you were there earlier-sitting at the top-usually studying but sometimes reading the sports page. You are proof that hard work pays off

Harold M Maurer
March 29, 2016 at 8:09 AM

Bill, Congratulations ! I'm proud of you many accomplishments. Hal Maurer