Silk Therapeutics’ Co-Founder & COO, Rebecca Horan, PhD, Makes Boston Business Journal “40 Under 40”

Silk Therapeutics’ Co-Founder & COO, Rebecca Horan, PhD, Makes Boston Business Journal “40 Under 40”

Silk Therapeutics is honored to announce the recent recognition of our COO, Rebecca Horan in Boston Business Journal’s 2015 class of 40 Under 40 honorees. We would like to share an inside look at the application submitted by our CEO and Co-Founder, Greg Altman, on her behalf. We hope you enjoy learning about one of the brainiacs behind our skincare technology.

Read Below for Complete Nomination (~1600 words answering 6 questions):

1. Reasons for nominating for a 40 under 40 award

Rebecca ‘Beck’ Horan, Ph.D., is one of the most humble, understated, hardworking and behind-the-scenes masterminds in the biomedical industry. Honoring Beck with this award for the generosity, dedication and commitment she has made to improving health outcomes for women would be fitting recognition. On behalf of those that have worked with and for her, as well as the thousands who have benefited from the products she has invented, studied, developed and ultimately commercialized across the world, it is my privilege to submit this nomination.

I had the tremendous good fortune to meet Beck the first semester of her freshman year at Tufts University, when she asked to work on my graduate study research project. I initially said, “no” after considering the experience level of a first semester, first year college student. But she quickly dispelled that concern. She was then, as she is now, one of the most talented scientists with which I have ever worked.

It was her persistence and willingness to work in a lab during her first college winter break that earned Beck a spot on the research team. In just six years, she had earned both her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering.

By that time, Beck had worked out the algorithms for controlling the bioresorption rate of pure silk fibers following implantation in the body.

Her research led to the development of the first bioresorbable silk fabric to support connective tissue regeneration.

Following graduation, Beck joined the first of three biotech start-ups we have created together, Serica Technologies. As the third employee, she lead the company’s research and development efforts, and in 2008, accomplished two of her greatest achievements: she gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the first bioresorbable silk medical device in US history, and was a one-year ovarian cancer survivor.

Following that FDA approval in 2008, Beck would end up leading the research efforts to commercialize one of the safest bioresorbable implantable devices in plastic surgery.

In 2010, Serica was acquired by Allergan, Inc. By the time Beck was 30, she was Senior Director of R&D at Allergan, where she lead the clinical studies that ultimately supported the commercialization of the her first medical device product, the SeriScaffold™ surgical scaffold. Under her direction and leadership, the SeriScaffold would later be commercialized globally, in 2012, as an implantable bra that supported new breast tissue growth for women undergoing breast reconstruction following cancer and mastectomy.

As her mentor (a long time ago), and now as her colleague, co-inventor, co-investor and business partner, I owe much if not all of my professional accomplishments to Beck, to her ruthless persistence of achieving BIG goals to benefit others, to her discerning judgment, and to her almost always perfect advice.

For these reasons, and on behalf of the thousands of women her products have helped, I nominated Rebecca (Beck) L. Horan for this most prestigious award.

2. Nominee’s civic involvement & accomplishments

4500 character limit; including spaces.

Following the global launch of the SeriScaffold, Beck passed up a Vice President promotion opportunity to partner with me in our next women’s health venture, Silk Therapeutics, Inc.

With the goal of creating the safest, most effective skincare products on the market, Beck agreed to co-found and co-invest in the company’s creation. There was just one stipulation from her: “We have to develop skincare that is available to all women and at all times in their lives.”

As an expert in quality and regulatory affairs, Beck recognized that the lack of regulations that exist in the cosmetic market had allowed manufactures to use harmful ingredients that could cause lasting implications on women’s health, as well as on the health of the children they might bear. She and I agreed to live by our own established levels of safety, quality and manufacturing controls at Silk Therapeutics.

As a result, Beck, again as a co-inventor on a novel liquid silk technology platform used to create skincare, has led the development of a anti-aging product line that can be used by all women including those who are considering becoming pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding, or who may be undergoing oncology treatment. During cancer treatment, the immune system is most vulnerable to harmful chemicals and fragrances that are found in many of today’s luxury skincare products. Beck has steadfastly assured our products are pure, healthy and effective options for oncology patients with extremely sensitive skin resulting from chemotherapy and radiation.

As a result of Beck’s commitment to women’s health, and her unwavering commitment to safety, the skincare products she developed are now available throughout the U.S. But of more meaningful importance to Beck, and the team at Silk Therapeutics, her skincare innovations can also be found in the Dana Faber Friend’s Store and are available to support those patients that share her own personal experience battling cancer.

3. Nominee’s personal accomplishments

  • 7-year cancer survivor
  • Received a BS + PhD, both in engineering and both accomplished in total six years, from Tufts University
  • Proud owner of a 16 year old yellow lab (who goes to the chiropractor weekly, i.e., in the dog-owner sainthood level)
  • Recently engaged (six weeks ago!)
  • Raised thousands of dollars for Family Reach, a non-profit which works to offset the incredible costs families face when a parent(s) must leave their job to care for a child undergoing cancer treatment
  • Volunteers regularly with Cradle to Crayons
  • Organizes the donation of hundreds of Christmas gifts to children in the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) foster care system through the DCF Kids Fund
  • Co-instructor of a course in Entrepreneurship and Strategy in the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Creator of Silk Therapeutics’ charitable mission whereby the company donates our pure, safe skincare products to women and men undergoing oncology treatment

4. What makes this honoree stand out amongst peers and colleagues?

Beck overcame a rare form of ovarian cancer, at the age of 27, just three years after losing her mother to pancreatic cancer. And despite the gravity of her illness, and the magnitude of side effects she faced while undergoing treatment, she still managed to launch a successful company that was later acquired by Allergan, and lead the research and development of the first bioresorbable silk medical device in US history to receive FDA approval. It was beyond trying, caring for herself in the wake of losing her mother, but she did, and is now a proud eight-year survivor.

Besides the fact that Beck is off-the-charts smart with a photographic-like memory, she is also the most judgmental person I have ever met in my personal or professional life. As such, when put in a position of responsibility for the welfare of other people and their health, she has made some of the best and toughest business and research decisions I have ever witnessed in my 20 years of leading teams, divisions and companies.

The degree of responsibility she takes on and commits to her family, friends, colleagues, patients and customers is unparalleled. I have never known Beck to put herself before the care of others. Beck is a gifted and successful entrepreneur, scientist, business professional and has remained her family’s anchor for almost a decade—fully committed to her dad, sisters, nieces and nephew.

5. What is the Nominees greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Next to inventing and commercializing the safest medical device available to women undergoing breast reconstruction throughout the world, and having her research published in the most respected, peer-reviewed clinical journal in the field, I believe Beck would feel her current efforts to improve the health and happiness of millions of women, and especially those undergoing cancer treatment, are most important to her.

As such, I would list the following accomplishments at Silk Therapeutics as her greatest to date, only because of the potential public health impact her work may have at the societal level:

Out of the approximately 70,000 products listed on the Environmental Working Group’s website, SkinDeep (, Beck has lead the development of the cleanest, least toxic skincare product line for women (not just one product, but the product line itself ranks at the top of the over 70,000 products identified as safe in the EWG’s Skin Deep database).

As a result — and by design and clear intention — women like Beck who are diagnosed with cancer, will not have to make a choice between their personal safety and skincare products that offer palliative care and help to heal, soothe and restore damaged and inflamed skin, while adding a touch of luxury during an incredibly challenging and taxing period of their lives.

6. One thing we should know about the Nominee

Beck has an aversion to tape; yes, tape, or for that matter any form of paper with adhesive. Put a piece of Scotch™ Tape on her hand and watch her turn green with nausea! Don’t know why, can’t understand it and have never seen it before, but it is sure amusing to watch her near the office supply cabinet.

Michelle Teillon

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