How an Army Medic Turned his Military Specialty into a Cutting-Edge Civilian Business

GoodCell is a company that stores healthy cells for future potential therapeutic use. (Trevor Perry via Twitter)

When Trevor Perry joined the Army to be a medic, a career in the medical field wasn't exactly what he had planned. He joined right after leaving high school, but he didn't have much direction other than serving. The Army really needed doctors, but Perry was looking for motivation and discipline before going off to college.

He wouldn't become a physician, but he still found a calling related to his military occupational specialty -- and it could be one of the biggest ideas in the future of biotech.

Perry joined the Army in 1997. He had his pick of Army careers because he scored so well on the ASVAB. He asked the recruiter about some of the most challenging jobs. They started talking about combat medics.

"It just felt right at the time, and it really was," Perry told "And that drove me into my first post-military career in the pharma industry."

He worked through college while serving in the Army Reserve in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. He routinely got called up to work security details and other needs related to Operation Noble Eagle, which saw guard and reserve units activated around the U.S. to support security efforts in the wake of 9/11. Going to college while essentially being full-time military was hard, but it paid off.

Georgia National Guardsmen, with the 190th Military Police Company, waves traffic through to the next stop at the Fort McPherson gates in September 2002.
Georgia National Guardsmen, with the 190th Military Police Company, waves traffic through to the next stop at the Fort McPherson gates in September 2002. (Spc. Jeff Lowry/U.S. Army photo)

Though previously unsure of what he wanted to do after high school, the Army helped guide him to the medical field. It was also the field in which he chose to study in his civilian education.

After graduating, there are only two industries looking to recruit military veterans fresh out of college with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, Perry says: the federal government and the pharmaceutical industry. He was recruited by a small company then known as Forest Pharmaceuticals (now Allergan).

"I was lucky. I came in at a pretty early time where I got to see how the pharma industry works in a small- to medium-sized company," Perry says. "I spent over a decade there, and that was kind of where I came up with the idea for GoodCell. I could see how the pharmaceutical industry operates and where the next evolution in health care is going to be."

GoodCell is Perry's biobanking company that he co-founded in 2016 with chief scientific officer Brad Hamilton and Dr. David Scadden, founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Biobanking is a business that anticipates the emergence of gene and stem-cell therapies. GoodCell stores its customers' mononuclear cells, plasma and DNA to draw from them later, as needed, for therapeutic purposes.

"Biobanking is about restoring yourself," Perry says. "We store those cells to be in the best possible condition they can be, because as time goes on, your cells can degrade and mutate. As therapeutic technologies are emerging, biobanking allows you to have all the best material to go into those therapies."

After serving in the military and spending years working in the pharmaceutical industry, starting up a business -- especially one focused on emerging technologies -- was a risk, but Perry says it was a calculated one. His life has been full of calculated risks that paid off more often than not.

They founded GoodCell in Boston, which Perry says is the Mecca of biotech development. Accepting calculated risks is his top advice to people leaving the military for a new life.

"One of the things that was very much instilled in the military was this idea of, 'You're always one push-up stronger,'" he says. "You're always able to do a lot more than you think that you can. And I think that carried through with starting up my own company."

To learn more about Perry's path from the Army to the C-Suite or to learn more about GoodCell and biobanking, visit the GoodCell website.

Want to Know More About Veteran Jobs?

Be sure to get the latest news about post-military careers as well as critical info about veteran jobs and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Story Continues