“My interest in the future of vision is personal and global,” says John F. de Benedetti, who recently assumed the leadership of That Man May See, support foundation for vision sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
As chair of the board of directors of the 45-year-old foundation, de Benedetti brings a special passion to the cause. He has dedicated his life to helping others overcome the burdens of blindness. Sighted at birth, de Benedetti lost his vision to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome at the age of 11.
“I know firsthand how breakthrough research and expert care can change people’s lives,” says de Benedetti.
That Man May See engages a community of friends to support vision research, patient care, teaching, and community service – all directed to saving and restoring sight.
The Future of Vision
To make research breakthroughs possible, de Benedetti has been raising charitable funds for That Man May See’s Future of Vision Campaign, achieving over $150 million thus far, to make possible a new Center for Vision Neuroscience at Mission Bay, near downtown San Francisco.
Now he wants to take this historic, highly successful campaign to greater heights and to a broader community of supporters.
He has a dream to cure blindness for all – Bay Area, nationwide, and worldwide.
The new Center will enrich the patient experience, advance research toward cures, train future leaders in vision research and care, and develop sustainable endowments for the long term.
For the first time, the Department of Ophthalmology and Francis I. Proctor Foundation at UCSF will be housed in a single structure, fostering the cross-fertilization needed to develop solutions that can prevent vision loss and blindness. Ground was broken on August 15 for the new building, with opening planned for mid-2019.
A Leader in the Alcatraz Swim for Sight
For the past four years, de Benedetti braved the waters of San Francisco Bay to raise funds for vision research. Along with 100 swimmers, de Benedetti led the charge as one of the top swimmers and fundraisers for That Man May See’s “Alcatraz Swim for Sight,” garnering over $500,000 for research aimed at glaucoma, macular degeneration, and inherited diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.
“Most importantly, this is helping the people of the Bay Area and around the world, as UCSF’s leading researchers and clinician scientists unravel the mysteries of the eye and the brain, working at the cellular level and using the latest in modern technology,” says de Benedetti.
“I have always been determined to stay positive and give back to others,” he explains. De Benedetti holds a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University and a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University. He is president and chief executive officer of the California Center for Sleep Disorders.
“It is a real joy to be supporting such an impressive UCSF faculty whose members share my passion for saving vision and lives,” says de Benedetti. Having served That Man May See for nearly two decades, he has chaired finance and now becomes its top leader at this transformational moment.
De Benedetti’s family has grown up with That Man May See. His daughters, Natalie, 20 (who was only three when de Benedetti joined the board) and Grace, 17 (who was born shortly thereafter), and attorney wife, Nina Srejovic, all play roles in the organization. Grace completed an internship this summer in the vision science laboratory of Douglas Gould, PhD, who heads research at UCSF’s Department of Ophthalmology.
“We support world-class physicians and basic scientists, among the most innovative researchers in the vision sciences field,” says de Benedetti. They are passionate about what the future of vision has to offer that will dramatically change outcomes for patients today.
“I want to do everything possible to help make their dreams, and mine, come true.”