Masako Fujita

  • Associate Professor
  • Director, Biomarker Laboratory for Anthropological Research


Baker Hall 328

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Maternal diet, nutrition, health
  • Human milk nutritional and immune content variation
  • Infant feeding in polygynous systems
  • Interactions in the mother-infant dyad
  • Human biology in nutritional and disease stress
  • Human ecological immunology
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Biomarker methods for anthropology

Biographical Info

I am a biological/biocultural anthropologist, specializing in contemporary human variation. My current research investigates how human milk nutrient and immune content varies by maternal nutritional and disease status and by the interaction in the mother-infant dyad. The patterns of variation in milk constituents provide insights for understanding the plasticity of human milk and maternal lactation strategy in stressful environments. My studies tend to utilize survey/interview and ethnographic data from community settings, biomarker data for nutritional and immune status (estimated from blood/milk samples), and statistical modeling. My long-term goal is to clarify, through basic research, why some public health problems, such as anemia and certain micronutrient deficiency disorders, are so persistent despite intense public health intervention efforts, ultimately to contribute to the betterment of health and well-being of women and children.

Current Research Projects

Evolutionary Nutritional Adaptations and COVID-19 Risk among Healthcare Workers. (PI: Wander K, Binghamton U)

Characterizing human milk folate content variation by maternal nutrition and infant age/sex during drought and famine. (with Tran T, U of Iowa)

Inter-birth interval, parity and human milk nutrient content among Ariaal agropastoralists of northern Kenya: A life-history perspective. (with Elyvine GI)

Investigation of interactions in the mother-infant dyad on human milk lactoferrin. (with Paredes Ruvalcaba N)


Recent Publications

Wander K, Fujita M, Spathis R, et al. 2021. In vitro stimulation of whole milk specimens: a field-friendly method to assess milk immune activity. Journal of Human Lactation. DOI: 10.1177/0890334421999628

Tran T, Fujita M. 2020. (Abstract) Investment in innate immune defense in northern Kenya . American Journal of Physical Anthropology 171, 287-287.

Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Bignall E, Fujita M. 2020. Age and socioeconomic status in relation to risk of maternal anemia among the Ariaal agropastoralists of northern Kenya. Human Ecology. DOI: 10.1007/s10745-020-00129-5

Fujita M, Wander K, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Brindle E. 2019. Human milk sIgA antibody in relation to maternal nutrition and infant vulnerability in northern Kenya. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health 2019(1):201-211. DOI: 10.1093/emph/eoz030

Corbitt M, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Fujita M. 2019. Variation in breast milk macronutrient contents by maternal anemia and hemoglobin concentration in northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology.DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23238

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, 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