A. Roberto Frisancho

A. Roberto Frisancho

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A. Roberto Frisancho is a human biologist and the Arthur A. Thurnau Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the 2008 recipient of the Franz Boas Lifetime Achievement Award in Anthropology and will be honored at the 2008 American Association of Physical Anthropologists Conference. He is best known for his work on human adaptation in high altitudes. Furthermore, he has contributed numerous papers on bioenergetics and nutrition.

Early life

Professor Frisancho was born in Peru, speaking only Quechua as a child. During adolescence, Frisancho worked as an independent poultry dealer. He would often travel long distances from his home village to markets in other areas of Peru to sell chickens, raising money for his family and his education. Later, he attended college in Peru and worked as a tour guide at Machu Picchu. That job allowed Frisancho to develop an interest in anthropology as well as an ability to speak multiple languages, including English. His life changed when he met an American anthropologist from Penn State, working in Peru, who helped Frisancho obtain a Fulbright grant which brought the student to Penn State to study biological anthropology. During that time, he cultivated his interest in physiological, cultural, and genetic adaptations that humans make in high altitude environments, such as Bolivia.


Frisancho received his Ph.D. and secured a job at University of Michigan in the early 1970s, joining a faculty that consisted of the prominent biological anthropologists C. Loring Brace and Fred Livingstone. Within a few years, he was joined by the paleoanthropologist Milford Wolpoff.

The anthropologist has concentrated on five themes over four decades of research:
#The development of anthropometric references for the evaluation of growth and nutritional status of children and adults - He is currently working on the second edition of the anthropometric standards.
#The determination of the developmental components of respiratory adaptation to high altitude hypoxia - For this purpose, he and his colleagues from the Bolivian Institute of High Altitude are studying the respiratory characteristics of Western Sea Level children growing up in La Paz, Bolivia (13,000 ft).
#The biological and environmental components of blood pressure variability among black people
#The role of nutrition and diet on the evolution of biological traits of humans
#Determining the role of undernutrition on the development of obesity

Roberto Frisancho was the recipient of the LS&A Excellence in Education Award in 1996, 1997, and 1998. He also received the Amoco Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1997. In 1999 he was named the Arthur A. Thurnau Professor of Anthropology for his distinguished teaching record.

Frisancho was invited to give the "Charla Magistral Honorifica" at the Ecuatorian and Latin Congress of Nutrition, organized by the Catholic University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador. He also gave the 2002 keynote lecture at the First International Meeting of the Economic and Human Biology Association, Tubingen, Germany.

A. Roberto Frisancho has trained numerous graduate students who have found employment in academics and industry throughout the country. He continues to work on problems of human adaptation and is a popular undergraduate teacher at the college.


#Frisancho AR. "Relative leg length as a biological marker to trace the developmental history of individuals and populations: growth delay and increased body fat." "Am J Hum Biol." 2007 Sep-Oct;19(5):703-10. PMID 17657724 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Varela-Silva MI, Frisancho AR, Bogin B, Chatkoff D, Smith PK, Dickinson F, Winham D. "Behavioral, environmental, metabolic and intergenerational components of early life undernutrition leading to later obesity in developing nations and in minority groups in the U.S.A." "Coll Antropol." 2007 Mar;31(1):39-46. Review. PMID 17600917 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Reduced rate of fat oxidation: a metabolic pathway to obesity in the developing nations." "Am J Hum Biol." 2003 Jul-Aug;15(4):522-32. Review. PMID 12820194 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Farrow S, Friedenzohn I, Johnson T, Kapp B, Miranda C, Perez M, Rauchle I, Sanchez N, Wheatcroft G, Woodill L, Ayllon I, Bellido D, Rodriguez A, Machicao J, Villena M, Vargas E. "Role of genetic and environmental factors in the increased blood pressures of Bolivian blacks." "Am J Hum Biol." 1999;11(4):489-498. PMID 11533968 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
#Frisancho AR. "Prenatal compared with parental origins of adolescent fatness." "Am J Clin Nutr." 2000 Nov;72(5):1186-90. PMID 11063447 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Albalak R, Frisancho AR, Keeler GJ. "Domestic biomass fuel combustion and chronic bronchitis in two rural Bolivian villages." "Thorax." 1999 Nov;54(11):1004-8. PMID 10525559 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Juliao PC, Barcelona V, Kudyba CE, Amayo G, Davenport G, Knowles A, Sanchez D, Villena M, Vargas E, Soria R. "Developmental components of resting ventilation among high- and low-altitude Andean children and adults." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1999 Jul;109(3):295-301. PMID 10407461 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Bolzan A, Guimarey L, Frisancho AR. "Study of growth in rural school children from Buenos Aires, Argentina using upper arm muscle area by height and other anthropometric dimensions of body composition." "Ann Hum Biol." 1999 Mar-Apr;26(2):185-93. PMID 10195656 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Tena-Flores JA, Frisancho AR. "Anthropometric growth of the school population in rural and suburban areas of Durango, Mexico." "Arch Latinoam Nutr." 1997 Jun;47(2):105-9. Spanish. PMID 9659422 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Reduction of birth weight among infants born to adolescents: maternal-fetal growth competition." "Ann N Y Acad Sci." 1997 May 28;817:272-80. Review. No abstract available. PMID 9239195 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Frisancho HG, Milotich M, Brutsaert T, Albalak R, Spielvogel H, Villena M, Vargas E, Soria R. "Developmental, genetic, and environmental components of aerobic capacity at high altitude." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1995 Apr;96(4):431-42. PMID 7604895 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Fields SJ, Frisancho AR. "Selection on maternal and neonate size at birth." "Hum Biol." 1993 Aug;65(4):579-91. PMID 8406407 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Ryan AS. "Decreased stature associated with moderate blood lead concentrations in Mexican-American children." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1991 Sep;54(3):516-9. PMID 1877508 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Housh CH. "The relationship of maturity rate to body size and body proportions in children and adults." "Hum Biol." 1988 Oct;60(5):759-70. No abstract available. PMID 3224968 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Nutritional anthropometry." "J Am Diet Assoc." 1988 May;88(5):553-5. No abstract available. PMID 3367011 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Origins of differences in hemoglobin concentration between Himalayan and Andean populations." "Respir Physiol." 1988 Apr;72(1):13-8. PMID 3363232 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Tracer DP. "Standards of arm muscle by stature for the assessment of nutritional status of children." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1987 Aug;73(4):459-65. PMID 3661683 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Compton A, Matos J. "Ineffectiveness of body mass indices for the evaluation of neonate nutritional status." "J Pediatr." 1986 Jun;108(6):993-5. No abstract available. PMID 3486970 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Matos J, Leonard WR, Yaroch LA. "Developmental and nutritional determinants of pregnancy outcome among teenagers." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1985 Mar;66(3):247-61. PMID 3985136 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "New standards of weight and body composition by frame size and height for assessment of nutritional status of adults and the elderly." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1984 Oct;40(4):808-19. PMID 6486088 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Matos J, Bollettino LA. "Influence of growth status and placental function on birth weight of infants born to young still-growing teenagers." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1984 Oct;40(4):801-7. PMID 6486087 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Matos J, Bollettino LA. "Role of gynecological age and growth maturity status in fetal maturation and prenatal growth of infants born to young still-growing adolescent mothers." "Hum Biol." 1984 Sep;56(3):583-93. No abstract available. PMID 6489997 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Leonard WR, Bollettino LA. "Blood pressure in blacks and whites and its relationship to dietary sodium and potassium intake." "J Chronic Dis." 1984;37(7):515-9. PMID 6746843 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Matos J, Flegel P. "Maternal nutritional status and adolescent pregnancy outcome." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1983 Nov;38(5):739-46. PMID 6637866 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Flegel PN. "Elbow breadth as a measure of frame size for US males and females." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1983 Feb;37(2):311-4. PMID 6823895 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Perspectives on functional adaptation of the high altitude native." "Prog Clin Biol Res." 1983;136:383-407. Review. PMID 6364176 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Flegel PN. "Advanced maturation associated with centripetal fat pattern." "Hum Biol." 1982 Dec;54(4):717-27. No abstract available. PMID 7166295 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Flegel PN. "Relative merits of old and new indices of body mass with reference to skinfold thickness." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1982 Oct;36(4):697-9. PMID 7124673 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "New norms of upper limb fat and muscle areas for assessment of nutritional status." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1981 Nov;34(11):2540-5. PMID 6975564 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Wainwright R, Way A. "Heritability and components of phenotypic expression in skin reflectance of Mestizos from the Peruvian lowlands." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1981 Jun;55(2):203-8. PMID 7258341 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Guire K, Babler W, Borkan G, Way A. "Nutritional influence on childhood development and genetic control of adolescent growth of Quechuas and Mestizos from the Peruvian lowlands." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1980 Mar;52(3):367-75. PMID 7386605 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Stinson S, Frisancho AR. "Body proportions of highland and lowland Peruvian Quechua children." "Hum Biol." 1978 Feb;50(1):57-68. No abstract available. PMID 649105 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Klayman JE, Smith MO, Frisancho AR. "Digital and palmar dermatoglyphic patterns in two Peruvian Quechua populations." "Hum Biol." 1977 Sep;49(3):363-74. No abstract available. PMID 892760 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Developmental adaptation to high altitude hypoxia." "Int J Biometeorol." 1977 Jun;21(2):135-46. Review. No abstract available. PMID 334676 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Klayman JE, Schessler T, Way AB. "Taste sensitivity to phenylthiourea (PTC), tongue rolling, and hand clasping among Peruvian and other native American populations." "Hum Biol." 1977 May;49(2):155-63. No abstract available. PMID 873482 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Klayman JE, Matos J. "Newborn body compositon and its relationship to linear growth." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1977 May;30(5):704-11. PMID 857642 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Klayman JE, Matos J. "Influence of maternal nutritional status on prenatal growth in a Peruvian urban population." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1977 Mar;46(2):265-74. PMID 848566 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Cole PE, Klayman JE. "Greater contribution to secular trend among offspring of short parents." "Hum Biol." 1977 Feb;49(1):51-60. No abstract available. PMID 844841 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Klayman JE, Matos J. "Symbiotic relationship of high fertility, high childhood mortality and socio-economic status in an urban Peruvian population." "Hum Biol." 1976 Feb;48(1):101-11. No abstract available. PMID 1254279 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Borkan GA, Klayman JE. "Pattern of growth of lowland and highland Peruvian Quechua of similar genetic composition." "Hum Biol." 1975 Sep;47(3):233-43. No abstract available. PMID 1176100 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Klayman JE. "A-B-O and Rh affinities between highland and lowland Quechua-speaking Peruvian populations." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1975 Sep;43(2):285-9. PMID 810039 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Functional adaptation to high altitude hypoxia." "Science." 1975 Jan 31;187(4174):313-9. Review. No abstract available. PMID 1089311 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Triceps skin fold and upper arm muscle size norms for assessment of nutrition status." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1974 Oct;27(10):1052-8. No abstract available. PMID 4419774 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Velásquez T, Sanchez J. "Influence of developmental adaptation on lung function at high altitude." "Hum Biol." 1973 Dec;45(4):583-94. No abstract available. PMID 4780994 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Sánchez J, Pallardel D, Yanez L. "Adaptive significance of small body size under poor socio-economic conditions in Southern Peru." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1973 Sep;39(2):255-61. No abstract available. PMID 4750674 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Martinez C, Velázquez T, Sanchez J, Montoye H. "Influence of developmental adaptation on aerobic capacity at high altitude." "J Appl Physiol." 1973 Feb;34(2):176-80. No abstract available. PMID 4686351 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Garn SM, Frisancho AR, Sandusky ST, McCann MB. "Confirmation of the sex difference in continuing subperiosteal apposition." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1972 May;36(3):377-80. No abstract available. PMID 5035061 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM, McCreery LD. "Relationship of skinfolds and muscle size to growth of children. I. Costa Rica." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1971 Jul;35(1):85-90. No abstract available. PMID 5138854 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM. "The implications of skinfolds and muscle size to developmental and nutritional status of Central American children. 3. Guatemala." "Trop Geogr Med." 1971 Jun;23(2):167-72. No abstract available. PMID 5568542 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM. "Skin-fold thickness and muscle size: implications for developmental status and nutritional evaluation of children from Honduras." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1971 May;24(5):541-6. No abstract available. PMID 5578514 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Garn SM, Frisancho AR, Poznanski AK, Schweitzer J, McCann MB. "Analysis of triquetral-lunate fusion." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1971 May;34(3):431-3. No abstract available. PMID 5120558 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM, Ascoli W. "Unaltered cortical area of pregnant and lactating women. Studies of the second metacarpal bone in North and Central American populations." "Invest Radiol." 1971 Mar-Apr;6(2):119-21. No abstract available. PMID 5157568 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM, Ascoli W. "Subperiosteal and endosteal bone apposition during adolescence." "Hum Biol." 1970 Dec;42(4):639-64. No abstract available. PMID 5509693 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM, Ascoli W. "Unequal influence of low dietary intakes on skeletal maturation during childhood and adolescence." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1970 Sep;23(9):1220-7. No abstract available. PMID 5450840 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garn SM, Ascoli W. "Childhood retardation resulting in reduction of adult body size due to lesser adolescent skeletal delay." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1970 Nov;33(3):325-36. No abstract available. PMID 5490180 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Cossman J. "Secular trend in neonatal mortality in the mountain states." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1970 Jul;33(1):103-5. No abstract available. PMID 5431480 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Developmental responses to high altitude hypoxia." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1970 May;32(3):401-7. Review. No abstract available. PMID 4911586 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Baker PT. "Altitude and growth: a study of the patterns of physical growth of a high altitude Peruvian Quechua population." "Am J Phys Anthropol." 1970 Mar;32(2):279-92. No abstract available. PMID 5437839 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Newman MT, Baker P. "Differences in stature and cortical thickness among highland Quechua Indian boys." "Am J Clin Nutr." 1970 Apr;23(4):382-5. No abstract available. PMID 5441173 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Montoye HJ, Frantz ME, Metzner H, Dodge HJ. "A comparison of morphological variables in adult males selected on the basis of physical activity." "Med Sci Sports." 1970 Winter;2(4):209-12. No abstract available. PMID 5521278 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR. "Human growth and pulmonary function of a high altitude Peruvian Quechua population." "Hum Biol." 1969 Sep;41(3):365-79. No abstract available. PMID 5372293 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
#Frisancho AR, Garin SM, Rohmann CG. "Age at menarche: a new method of prediction and retrospective assessment based on hand x-rays." "Hum Biol." 1969 Feb;41(1):42-50. No abstract available. PMID 4306652 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

External links

# [http://www.umich.edu/~chgdwww/faculty/frisancho.html Roberto Frisancho Biography] at the University of Michigan

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