Masako Fujita

  • Associate Professor
  • Director, Biomarker Laboratory for Anthropological Research


Baker Hall 328

Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Evolutionary theory
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Ecological immunology
  • Maternal diet, nutrition, health
  • Human milk bioactive content
  • Biomarker methods

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 contribute to the betterment of human health and well-being by clarifying why some public health problems (e.g., anemia, certain micronutrient deficiency disorders particularly among women and children) are pervasive and persistent despite long-term intervention efforts.

Current Research Projects

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

Characterizing the extent human milk folate is buffered against maternal malnutrition and infection in drought-stricken northern Kenya.


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

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