Masako Fujita

  • Associate Professor
  • Founder, Biomarker Laboratory for Anthropological Research


Baker Hall 328

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Maternal and Child Nutrition/Health
  • Micronutrient Deficiency
  • Breastmilk Research
  • Evolutionary Medicine
  • Biomarker Methods
  • East Africa; Brazil

Biographical Info

I am a biological anthropologist specializing in contemporary human variation in micronutrient storage and metabolism. 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 public health intervention efforts. I address these issues through hypothesis testing, guided by evolutionary biological and social theories, using data collected in non-clinical, community settings. My publications on maternal hepatic and breast milk vitamin A are examples of this approach. My work also evaluates the applicability of clinical nutrition and health research methods to anthropological studies in resource-poor, non-clinical settings. My publications on retinol-binding protein and C-reactive protein in dried blood spots represent this effort. My laboratory is a biosafety level 2 facility located in Giltner Hall of MSU. Recent and current student projects in my lab 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, and “Feasibility study for iron status dried blood spot assay” by Jonah Stone.

Current Research Projects

Simultaneous impacts of food insecurity, poverty and milk rationing on dietary quality of Kenyan mothers

Human milk antibody as parental investment: A preliminary analysis of secretory immunoglobulin A data from northern Kenya

Multiple causes of maternal anemia and possible impacts on breast milk quality


Recent Publications

Fujita M, Brindle E, Lo Y. 2015. Maternal anemia and acute phase reaction during breastfeeding interactively predict milk fat concentration among Ariaal mothers in northern Kenya (Abstract). American Journal of Human Biology 27(2): 267.

Fujita M, Brindle E, Lo Y, Castro P, Cameroamortegui F. 2014. Nutritional intakes associated with elevated serum C-reactive protein concentrations in normal to underweight breastfeeding women in northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology 26(6):796-802. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22600.

Fujita M, Roth EA, Lo Y. 2013. Letter to the editor: Response to Primack’s comment: Mother’s milk. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 152(3):427-428.

Fujita M, Silva HP. 2013. Diverse diets may be prophylactic against micronutrient deficiency but not against cardiovascular disease risks: case studies in under-served rural communities in Kenya and Brazil (Abstract). American Journal of Human Biology 25(2):235–290.

Miller E, Aiello M, Fujita M, Hinde K, Milligan L, Quinn EA. 2013. Field and laboratory methods in human milk research. American Journal of Human Biology 25:1-11.

Fujita M, Lo Y, Baranski J. 2012. Dietary diversity score is a useful indicator of vitamin A status of adult women in northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology 24:829-834.

Fujita M, Roth E, Lo Y, Hurst C, Vollner J, Kendell A. 2012. In poor families, mothers’ milk is richer for daughters than sons: A test of Trivers–Willard hypothesis in agropastoral settlements in Northern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149(1):52-59. Erratum in American Journal of Physical Anthropology 152(4):571.

Fujita M, Roth EA, Lo Y, Hurst C, Vollner J, Kendell A. 2012. Low serum vitamin A mothers breastfeed daughters more often than sons in drought-ridden northern Kenya: A test of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. Evolution and Human Behavior 33(4):357-364.

Fujita M, Shell-Duncan B, Ndemwa P, Brindle E, Lo Y, Kombe Y, O’Connor KA. 2011. Vitamin A dynamics in breastmilk and liver stores: a life history perspective. American Journal of Human Biology 23:664-673.

Brindle E, Fujita M, Shofer J, O’Connor KA. 2010. Serum, plasma, and dried blood spot high sensitivity C-reactive protein enzyme immunoassay for population research. Journal of Immunological Methods 362:112-120.