PhD graduate Supaya Wenuganen
Dr. Wenuganen conducting part of his research at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland
Receiving the Veda Vyasa Award at the 2014 Graduation Awards Ceremony (photo by Ken West)
With faculty and staff of the Physiology and Health Department, (from left to right Dr. Fred Travis, Jessica Brower, Dr. Ken Walton, Dr. Supaya Wenuganen, and Dr. Keith Wallace)
Dr. Wenuganen’s Research Connects Gene Expression with TM
Each year MUM recognizes a PhD graduate who displays great depth of vision with the Veda Vyasa Award. This year the University honored Supaya Wenuganen, who wrote his PhD dissertation on how the Transcendental Meditation® technique influences gene expression and ojas, the life energy of the body.
Dr. Wenuganen was born in Indonesia into an Indian family and taught classes and conducted research in molecular biology and biotechnology at Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta, where he was also associate dean of faculty. He learned the Transcendental Meditation technique in 2000 and became a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique in 2007. He had been looking to pursue a PhD program but was no longer interested in researching biotechnology. Turning down scholarships from two other universities, he came to MUM instead.
“I wanted to come here to meditate and learn about Maharishi AyurVeda,” Dr. Wenuganen said. “I was interested in the area of health and I wanted to study a deeper value of knowledge.” After completing the Maharishi Vedic Science℠ master’s program, he embarked on his PhD research and at the same time taught courses in biology and biochemistry in the physiology and health pre-medicine track.
Dr. Fred Travis summarized his research as follows: “Dr. Wenuganen researched the anti-aging effects of Transcendental Meditation on gene expression and ojas levels. His global gene expression results showed 74 gene expression differences between the older TM group and the older control group. Analysis of these differences identified six important pathways related to health and aging that were affected by the TM program. Close examination of 15 genes from these pathways found especially large effects on four important genes related to health, two of which were specifically related to the anti-aging effects of TM.”
“Dr. Wenuganen’s research opened the door to a new frontier of research on the Transcendental Meditation program that could give far deeper insights into the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of enlightenment,” said Dr. Keith Wallace, co-director of the PhD Program in Physiology.
Dr. John Fagan, professor of molecular biology at MUM, described the significance of Dr. Wenuganen’s research as follows: “This study stands alongside the early physiological research by Dr. Keith Wallace and the early research on brain waves as key milestones in TM research.”