Masako Fujita

  • Associate Professor


Baker Hall 328

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Maternal diet, nutrition, infection, inflammation, anemia; human milk contents; sex biases in infant feeding in polygynous systems; droughts and famine; human ecological immunology; evolutionary medicine; life-history theory; parental investment theory; biomarker methods

Biographical Info

My research focuses on the health and evolutionary implications of mother and offspring nutrition. In my research, I combine epidemiological, biomarker and ethnographic methods to investigate biocultural pathways to malnutrition. I am particularly interested in clarifying why some nutritional deficiencies and health issues persist today despite decades of public health intervention efforts. I address these issues through hypothesis testing, guided by evolutionary biological and social theories, using data collected in community settings. I am also interested in the applicability of clinical research methods to anthropological studies in resource-limited low-income country settings. My laboratory is a biosafety level-2 facility located in Giltner Hall of MSU. I enjoy working with undergraduate and graduate students in my lab. Past student projects include: “The effect of maternal vitamin A status on secretory immunoglobulin A secretion into breast milk” by Janine Baranski, “Pathways between food insecurity and serum folate status through coping strategies” by Allison Apland, “Feasibility study for iron status dried blood spot assay” by Jonah Stone, “Pilot study of alkaline dissolution of human milk iron assay” by Nerli Paredes Ruvalcaba (working with Dr. Guillaume Girard of ICP-MS Lab, Earth and Environmental Sciences), and “Differences in maternal prolactin levels in relation to infant sex, breastfeeding status, and nutritional status” by Emma Bignall.

Current Research Projects

Human milk folate-binding protein in relation to maternal micronutrient health during the 2006 Horn-of-Africa drought

Effects of maternal nutrition and infant gender on breastmilk antibodies and micronutrients.

Conditional sex bias in human milk fat as a function of maternal nutrition and infant feeding behavior in the gendered context of northern Kenya.


Recent Publications

Fujita M, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Wander K, Corbitt M, Brindle E. 2018. Buffered or impaired: Maternal anemia, inflammation and breast milk macronutrients in northern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23752

Fujita M, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Corbitt N. 2018. (Abstract) The evolutionary ecology of breastmilk folate among Ariaal agro-pastoralists in Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 165(S66):91.

Fujita M, Wander K. 2017. A test of the Optimal Iron Hypothesis among breastfeeding Ariaal mothers in northern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI:10.1002/ajpa.23299

Fujita M, Lo Y, Brindle E. 2017. Nutritional, inflammatory, and ecological correlates of maternal retinol allocation to breast milk in agro-pastoral Ariaal communities of northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22961

Fujita M, Brindle E, Lo Y, Castro P, Cameroamortegui F. 2014. Nutrient intakes associated with elevated serum C-reactive protein concentrations in normal to underweight breastfeeding women in Northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology 26: 796-802. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22600