Meet the men and women who make up our team of dedicated faculty, scientists and medical experts who are making a difference every day to find effective treatments and therapies for children with rare disorders.
Vinodh Narayanan, M.D. Medical Director, TGen's Center for Rare Childhood Disorders
Dr. Narayanan obtained his BS in Physics in 1972 from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He completed graduate studies in mathematical physics at Princeton University, where he received his MA in Physics in 1976. He received his MD from Louisiana State University Medical School, New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1981, and completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospitals, Baltimore, Maryland. Between 1983 and 1986, he served as resident in Neurology and Child Neurology at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri (Barnes Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital).
After completing his residency, Dr. Narayanan returned to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions as a research fellow and faculty member, working in the laboratory of Dr. Gihan Tennekoon, studying the expression and regulation of the peripheral myelin P2 protein gene. He joined the Child Neurology division at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1990, where he remained until 2003 as Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology. In 2003, Dr. Narayanan moved to Phoenix as a member of the Child Neurology division at Barrow Neurological Institute.
Dr. Narayanan is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (with special competence in Child Neurology). He received the Young Investigator Award from the Child Neurology Society in 1987. He is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ. Dr. Narayanan serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Child Neurology Society and as the Medical Director of TGen's Center for Rare Childhood Disorders.
Dr. Narayanan has a special interest in the genetic basis of neurological disorders. His research interests include the neurobiology of genetic disorders. Current projects deal with Rett syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), hypothalamic hamartoma, and other pediatric neurological disorders. He is the director of the Neurofibromatosis Planning Clinic and the Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic at CRS (Children’s Rehabilitative Services), and is the site Principal Investigator in Clinical Trials of everolimus in SEGAs and AMLs linked to TSC.
Chitra Narayanan, handles all patient visits to APNNA and the Center for Rare Childhood Disorders’ clinic. Chitra is a former teacher and Dr. Narayanan’s wife.
Keri Ramsey, RN, CCRN, Clinical Research Coordinator
Keri Ramsey, RN, CCRN is the Clinical Research Coordinator for the Center for Rare Childhood Disorders at The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). She works with both the medical and scientific team in achieving the Center’s goal: to use the most advanced technology in sequencing to identify or provide insight into the cause of unexplained rare childhood neurological disorders.
Keri worked for four years at TGen as Lead Technologist and Center Coordinator for the NIND/NIMH Microarray Consortium where she collaborated with scientists from around the country studying diseases such as epilepsy, Autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
In 2007, she left the bench to be bed-side and obtained her nursing degree at Arizona State University. She spent four years working as a Certified Critical Care Nurse in the neurology intensive care unit at Banner Good Samaritan in Phoenix, AZ.
Keri returned to TGen in 2013 to fill the role as Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC). As CRC, Keri consents and collects blood samples from families enrolled in the center’s sequencing study. She obtains health histories on patients to see if they qualify for current studies. Keri manages a registry of families interested in participating in the center’s research. She updates families on their progress in the study and connects them to the scientific staff and their individual research results. Keri is involved in study design and writing protocols for current and future projects.
Newell Belnap, PA-C, Clinical Research Coordinator
Newell Belnap is a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Center for Rare Childhood Disorders at TGen. He is a physician assistant and joined the clinical staff at TGen in July 2014. He also works with Dr. Vinodh Narayanan seeing patients at Children’s Rehabilitative Services Pediatric Neurology Clinic. He works with both the medical and scientific team.
He earned his BS in Zoology in 1996 from Brigham Young University. After completing his undergraduate studies, he spent some time doing research at the University of Utah in Neuroscience and doing research on nutritional supplements at a private company. He also was involved in research at Utah State University and John’s Hopkins University studying the risk factors of osteoporosis.
After 3 years doing research and teaching, he left the bench and went to bedside. He attended Quinnipiac University School of Medicine, in Hamden, Connecticut, to become a Physician Assistant (PA) and graduated in August 2001 with a master’s degree. During his studies, he received three academic scholarships and was awarded a research stipend for his work on the benefits of fluoride in a rural Colorado community. He was awarded Quinnipiac University’s 2001 Director’s Award in recognition of his embodiment of the goals, ideals, and spirit of the PA profession.
He has been in clinical practice since 2001 working mainly in family practice, psychiatry, and emergency medicine.
He has been on the faculty of Arizona School of Health Sciences as a clinical instructor, Associate Faculty of Northland Pioneer College as an instructor for Anatomy & Physiology and Nutrition, and Adjunct Faculty at Salt Lake Community College as an instructor for general and cell biology labs.
He also has a personal reason for joining the clinical staff at TGen. He is the father of 3 children with a rare form of mitochondrial disease. In 2013, Newell and his wife Rebecca, co-founded The Belnap Foundation for Mitochondrial Disease, a non-profit organization. Their mission is to raise awareness and money for rare genetic childhood diseases.