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University of Missouri

Engineering Friendships

Four alumni lead medical startup that makes radiation therapy safer.

Mobius Medical Systems

Nathan Childress, far right, founded Mobius Medical Systems in 2010. He’s since assembled a team of former Tiger classmates. He’s shown here, left to right, with Eli Stevens, Eric Runde, David Eklund (not from MU), and Stan Eshelman. Photo courtesy of Nathan Childress.

Since he was a freshman living on the fourth floor of Wolpers Hall, Nathan Childress has known that he liked hanging out with “technical people.” Among his fourth-floor friends were chemical, computer and mechanical engineers.

Childress, BS ChE ’00, MS ’01, of Houston liked them so well that, when he founded a medical software company more than a decade later, he hired those same friends to work with him — an idea that occurred to him during their Wolpers days.

Even while studying engineering, Childress says, he figured he’d end up in business. “I always thought, ‘If I ever start a business, I’d want Stan by my side,’ ” referring to Stan Eshelman, BS, BS ChE ’01, a chemical engineer who’s organized in ways Childress is not and who is now the chief operating officer at Mobius Medical Systems, founded in 2010 in Houston.

The first person Childress brought into the Mobius fold was Eli Stevens, BS ’02. “The only reason [Mobius] was founded was because Eli agreed to join us,” Childress says. Childress spent a lot of time developing the initial software Mobius brought to market, but he knew his self-taught programming skills would not be enough to fill a product pipeline. However, Stevens’ software engineering and computer science background makes him the perfect chief technical officer.  “He actually knows what he’s doing,” Childress jokes.

Childress has handed the company’s customer support team — where much of its reputation is earned — to Eric Runde, BS ME ’01, a mechanical engineer.

The four men now help ensure that cancer patients aren’t harmed by radiation. Radiation treatment is a choreographed event where patients are carefully positioned and the radiation machine’s movements are precisely mapped to limit radiation doses to healthy tissues, organs or the spine.

The Mobius software finds the mistakes in that choreography.

A small error can make a huge difference in a patient’s life,” Childress says.