Penn State Researchers Identify the World’s First White Person

298px-Pennsylvania_State_University_seal.svgResearch conducted at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey has found that all instances of a gene mutation that contributed to light skin color in Europeans can be traced to one individual who most likely lived about 10,000 years ago. Keith Cheng, distinguished professor of pathology at Penn State, earlier found that one amino acid difference in one gene is the key contributor in skin color differences between Europeans and West Africans. Light skin color provided an evolutionary advantage for people in northern climates because people with light skin can absorb more vitamin D from sunlight which is not abundant at certain times of year at those latitudes. Vitamin D is known to help build stronger bones, develop a stronger immune system, and may help fight cancer and heart disease.

Dr. Cheng and colleagues identified the gene mutation which is found in most people of European ancestry but not in high numbers of Africans. The mutation was also found among people in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the region where the highest percentage of people have the mutation is between the Middle East and India. So the one individual who first had the mutation is likely to have lived in this region and this person’s ancestors then spread to Europe and India.

Related Articles


  1. “Light skin color provided an evolutionary advantage for people in northern climates because….”

    JL: And dark skin color ‘provided an evolutionary advantage for people in southern or tropical climates.”

    However, as Africans –the world’s first humans– migrated out of Africa and began populating other continents….they’re skin and other physical characteristics *changed as an adaptation to the climates* in those areas…thereby generating people who became known as “Asians, Europeans, Latin Americans, etc., etc., etc.”

    “Dr. Cheng and colleagues identified the gene mutation which is found in most people of European ancestry but not in high numbers of Africans. ”

    JL: WHY….WHY….WHY…would Africans need this “gene mutation”…when they didn’t live in northern climates?!

    TWO…as I wrote above…..”Africans’ physical traits CHANGED…AS AN ADAPTATION to the new climates they migrated to….thereby PRODUCING people that came to be known as “Asians, Europeans, Latino/as, etc.

    I get tired of reading material steeped in White supremacy.
    Whites and ALL other people came from Africans.

  2. Those so-called advantages of white skin haven’t been thoroughly vetted in my opinion. White skin seems more likely to have been an epiphenomenon – a byproduct of the amino acid/gene mutation.

    This press release is egregious and I agree with J Lindsay – steeped in White Supremacy. I am so disappointed that the JBHE would publish something so awful and mis-leading and mis-informing.

  3. You are apparently reading into something that is not there, and has nothing to do with the purpose of this research. I’m convinced that racism wouldn’t hardly exist anymore if people would stop inventing reasons to get butthurt about everything.

  4. The article says that light skin colour provides an evolutionary advantage for those people IN NORTHERN CLIMATES. That’s not a racist comment, that’s just geography. The article doesn’t say anything about light skin colour denoting superior intellect, morality, or any of the other foolish conclusions drawn by racists throughout the ages.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs