Masako Fujita

  • Associate Professor
  • Director, Biomarker Laboratory for Anthropological Research


Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

    Biological Anthropology, Evolutionary Medicine, Ecological Immunology
    Human Adaptability, Maternal and Infant Health, Human Milk, Biomarker Methods

Biographical Info

I am a biological anthropologist with a broad background in human biological variation with training in evolutionary theory, evolutionary medicine, ecological immunology, and human adaptability. I am interested in uncovering the 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 to study 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. I have also investigated how human milk nutrient and immune content change (or not) when mothers are subjected to nutritional and disease stress, again in northern Kenya. Together with my team, I am currently preparing for a new study to characterize how the immune system of milk responds to bacterial stimuli, and how this may differ between mother-infant dyads.

Current Research Projects

- Implications of selling livestock during drought for mother-infant infection risks among Kenyan agropastoralists (with Bilinda Straight, Western Michigan U)
- Exploring the extent dietary diversity protects against folate deficiency among breastfeeding mothers amid drought and food shortage (with Ananyaa Asthana)
- Exploring Human Milk Immune Specificity in Michigan Mothers (with MSU students Aditi Sharma, Alli Harkenrider, and Ananyaa Asthana and Katherine Wander, Binghamton U)


Forthcoming. Vankayalapati A, Wamwere-Njoroge G, Fujita M. Effects of household composition on infant feeding and mother-infant health in northern Kenya. American Journal of Human Biology. https;//
2023. Wander K, Fujita M, Mattison S, et al. Does the immune system of milk increase activity for infants experiencing infectious disease episodes in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania? American Journal of Human Biology.
2022. 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.
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.
Dept. of Anthropology