Tending to the student body

“The heart and soul of student medicine” for 25 years steps down.

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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If you were ever seriously ill or injured as a Yale student in the last 25 years, you probably found James Perlotto ’78 at your bedside. As chief of student health and athletic medicine, “Jim has been the heart and soul of student medicine,” says Yale Health medical director Michael Rigsby. “Sometimes at an institution there’s a person who embodies the whole thing and everybody recognizes the face, and that’s certainly true of Jim.”

Students will have to get used to a new face, since Perlotto is stepping down in August. His husband, Thomas Masse ’91MusM, who was associate provost for the arts at Yale, became dean of the Stetson University School of Music in June, and Perlotto is moving to Florida with him.

Perlotto says a few things have changed in student medicine in 25 years. For example, football players with concussions don’t talk their way back onto the field anymore. And while he believes students today are more proactive about nutrition and fitness, he also sees many more students with eating disorders.

Another change is that more people with serious health issues are able to go to college. “We have students who have cystic fibrosis, who use wheelchairs, who have bipolar disorder—serious conditions that impact their ability to function at a high level,” he notes. But they “can now come to Yale because medicines and treatments are available.”

And the students themselves? Perlotto is a fan. “It’s really amazing to see how students change in four years. They’re so bright and so full of enthusiasm, and it’s such a privilege to get to know them.” He’ll miss his patients.