Masako Fujita

  • Associate Professor
  • Director, Biomarker Laboratory for Anthropological Research


Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

    Evolutionary medicine, Ecological immunology
    Human milk, mother-infant health
    Biomarker methods

Biographical Info

I am a biological anthropologist, specializing in contemporary human variation. I am interested in uncovering reasons why some public health problems, such as anemia, are so pervasive despite decades of intervention efforts. I tend to draw on evolutionary and social theories and hypotheses to these problems situated in ecological and cultural settings. I have investigated how women and children cope with nutritional and disease stress in harsh conditions of northern Kenya. My current research investigates how human milk nutrient and immune content changes (or not) when mothers are exposed to nutritional and disease stress, again in northern Kenya, or when human milk is experimentally exposed to bacteria in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. I am also involved in research on iron nutrition and COVID-19 risk among healthcare workers in Nigeria. My research efforts also include making biomarker techniques more useful for researchers without ready access to centralized labs.

Current Research Projects

- Evolutionary Nutritional Adaptations and COVID-19 Risk among Healthcare Workers. (PI: Wander K, Binghamton U)
- Evaluating the effect of household composition and food insecurity on mother-infant infection risk (Student PI: Amulya Vankayalapati)
- Factors affecting mother-infant infection risk among drought-afflicted agropastoralists: the role of livestock herd dynamics


In press. Fujita M. Wander K, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Odo A.N. Human milk lactoferrin variation in relation to maternal inflammation and iron deficiency in northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology. (forthcoming)
2022. Fujita M, Brindle E. Comparing the creamatocrit of human milk before and after long-term freezing. Experimental Results.
2022. Fujita M, Wander K, Tran T, Brindle E. Characterizing the extent human milk folate is buffered against maternal malnutrition and infection in drought-stricken northern Kenya. American Journal of Biological Anthropology.
2022. Wander K, Fujita M, Mattison S, et al. Tradeoffs in milk immunity affect infant infectious disease risk. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.
2021. Wander K, Fujita M, Spathis R, et al. In vitro stimulation of whole milk specimens: a field-friendly method to assess milk immune activity. Journal of Human Lactation.
2020. Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Bignall E, Fujita M. Age and socioeconomic status in relation to risk of maternal anemia among the Ariaal agropastoralists of northern Kenya. Human Ecology.
2019. Fujita M, Wander K, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Brindle E. Human milk sIgA antibody in relation to maternal nutrition and infant vulnerability in northern Kenya. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.
2019. Corbitt M, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Fujita M. Variation in breast milk macronutrient contents by maternal anemia and hemoglobin concentration in northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology.
2018. Fujita M, Paredes Ruvalcaba N, Wander K, Corbitt M, Brindle E. Buffered or impaired: Maternal anemia, inflammation and breast milk macronutrients in northern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
2017. Fujita M, Wander K. A test of the Optimal Iron Hypothesis among breastfeeding Ariaal mothers in northern Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
2017. Fujita M, Lo Y, Brindle E. 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.