Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Capita Foundation Grant Recipient Becomes Global Finalist in Google Science Fair

The Capita Foundation selected San Diego eighth grader, Jonah Kohn and his project "Music Through Multi-Frequency Tactile Sound", as a 2012 Grant Recipient. Capita would like to commend Jonah on his accomplishments and is pleased to help support the research of this young innovator.  

Eighth grade San Diego Jewish Academy student Jonah Kohn was recently named one of 15 finalists in the 2012 international Google Science Fair. Jonah’s project uses tactile sound to enhance music for individuals with hearing loss through vibrations, and has the potential to enhance millions of lives.

Jonah was recently notified that he is one of five finalists in his age group out of a total 15 finalists in the 2012 Google Science Fair, which received thousands of entries from over a 100 countries worldwide. Jonah’s project, “Good Vibrations: Improving the Music Experience for People with Hearing Loss Using Multi-Frequency Tactile Sound,” has the potential to affect millions of people with hearing loss by enhancing their ability to enjoy music.

Jonah’s project won first place at the California State Science Fair and placed first at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. Jonah will fly to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California on July 21 to present his project to the Google Science Fair judges and compete for $100,000 in scholarships and other prizes.

Jonah with the guitar he built and that helped inspire his award winning science project.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Boy Hearing Parent's Voice For The First Time

Thanks to the House Ear Institute for all of their pioneering work on cochlear implants.

New York Times Article: "Teaching a Deaf Child Her Mother's Tongue"

Teaching a Deaf Child Her Mother’s Tongue

A series of posts honoring wilted flowers, handmade cards and breakfast in bed.
Most babies are born into the culture and community of their families. If the family is Latino or Tatar or Han Chinese, so is the baby. The baby learns the family’s language — “the mother tongue.” Culture and language are passed down from parents to child.

Except when the child is born deaf. I am the mother of two daughters, both diagnosed deaf within their first weeks of life. My husband and I, both hearing, faced complicated decisions from the very start. Our babies needed exposure to language immediately (unlike hearing babies, they heard nothing in the womb), and we needed to make choices.

Most parents simply whisper and coo to their children in their native tongues. We had to decide — and quickly — what our daughters’ native tongue would be. Should we try to get our daughters access to spoken language through hearing technology, or to immerse them (and ourselves) in American Sign Language, or to try to do both?

We chose spoken language, primarily. We believed it would give our girls the greatest opportunities over the course of their lifetimes — and, maybe even more powerfully, we felt it would be best for us as a family. We were new parents, bonding with our babies, and we, like parents everywhere, wanted to do that in our own mother tongue.

Hearing technologies — in the form of digital hearing aids and cochlear implants — have come so far as to make this a viable option even for our younger daughter, who was born profoundly deaf. Many people we meet — hearing and deaf — understand the decisions we made to enable our children to hear and to speak our language. Many — but not all.

I’ve met people who believe that despite the fact that we gave birth to them, our children are deaf and should belong to the signing Deaf community (in the distinct culture and community of those with fluency in sign language, “Deaf” is always capitalized) — and neither spoken language nor the culture of hearing serves them. One woman expressed “deep sorrow” for us because (in her view) we failed to accept our children for who they are. We sought to change them into hearing people, wrongly imposing our world on them. (Most parents, it should be said, impose their world on their children without compunction.)

More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Given the major advances in hearing technology in recent years, many of those children can gain very good access to the particular spoken language of their parents. They and their parents, through everyday communication, can connect with one another and share their family’s history, heritage and culture — just as other families do around the globe.

But this technological opportunity is relatively new, and a long and troubled history of deafness still reverberates with pain and anger. The older deaf remember a time when parents insisted on an oral approach for their deaf children without the benefit of today’s technologies, and many of those children suffered as a result. Of the parents who sent their children to signing schools, the majority never themselves learned more than preschool-level sign language, so that “home” was, for many of these children, isolating and alien.

With little connection to their hearing, speaking families back then, many deaf children found acceptance and camaraderie in communities with deaf people who signed. Today, a blanket insistence on Deaf language and culture for deaf children who can acquire the language of their families is outdated. Family bonds, forged through rich communication and the intimacy this communication brings, can be far more formative to identity than the fact of a child’s deafness.

Some will counter that the hearing families of deaf children should work harder to learn sign language. Perhaps they should, if only to share experiences with the deaf who do not or cannot use hearing technology. But the demands of fluency are out of reach for many parents (not to mention grandparents, siblings and family friends), and as a second language, it may prove inadequate for intimacy and community. Try to communicate with your newborn in Greek while raising your other kids and keeping your job, and the challenge will become clear.

Both of our daughters were fitted with hearing aids within weeks of birth, and our younger daughter eventually got two cochlear implants. We also learned some sign language, which we use when their technology is off. Both have learned to speak beautifully. They happily attend mainstream schools and feel a strong sense of membership in our family and our community. Our daughters hear so well that not only can we talk to them, we can whisper, and even coo — and all of this in our own mother tongue.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Donate Unused Air Miles

Donate Unused Air Miles
Donate Unused Air Miles

Don't need all of your frequent flyer miles? Donate them for research! Capita Foundation "banks" unused and unwanted airline miles for use by scientists and post doctoral students conducting auditory research. Airline miles must be used for travel related to auditory research and can include conferences, workshops and travel between research laboratories. If you contact us with a request to donate airline miles, we will find a research scientist that is in need of support for travel to a conference or another lab.

  • How will I know if the scientist actually used the miles for research?
We require that all airline mile recipients submit a copy of their itinerary within a month of their travel.
  • How will my donation be recognized?
All airline mile donors will receive a than you letter from Capita Foundation, and recognition on our website. We will encourage airline mile recipients to follow-up with donors concerning highlights of their participation at a conference or visit to another lab.
  • I want to donate miles, but I simply don't have the time to contact my intended recipient and process the transfer of miles.
No problem - we're happy to facilitate.

Simply call Capita Foundation at (619) 849-9850 or email robert@capitafoundation.org

The Capita Foundation is an independent, privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID (EIN) # 20-1685136.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ScienceDaily: Mom's Voice May Improve the Health of Premature Babies


ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2012) When babies are born prematurely, they are thrust into a hospital environment that while highly successful at saving their lives, is not exactly the same as the mother's womb where ideal development occurs. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is equipped with highly skilled care givers and incubators that regulate temperature and humidity, but Amir Lahav, ScD, PhD, director of the Neonatal Research Lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) thought that something was missing -- simulation of the maternal sounds that a baby would hear in the womb. Now, new research conducted by Lahav and colleagues links exposure to an audio recording of mom's heartbeat and her voice to lower incidence of cardiorespiratory events in preterm infants.

This research is published online in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.
"Our findings show that there may be a window of opportunity to improve the physiological health of these babies born prematurely using non-pharmalogical treatments, such as auditory stimulation," said Lahav, principal investigator of the study.

Because they are underdeveloped, preterm infants experience high rates of adverse lung and heart events, including apnea (pause in breathing that lasts longer than 20 seconds ) and bradycardia (periods of significantly slow heart rate). Researchers sought to determine whether an auditory intervention could affect the rates of these unwarranted cardiorespiratory events.

To conduct the study, Lahav enrolled fourteen extremely premature infants (born between 26-32 weeks gestation) that were admitted to the NICU at BWH. The infants were assigned to receive an auditory intervention of maternal sound stimulation (MSS), four times per day throughout their NICU hospitalization. Each infant received a personalized MSS-a soundtrack that consisted of his/her own mother's voice and heartbeat. The recording was played into the infant's incubator via a specialized micro audio system developed in Lahav's lab.

Overall, researchers found that cardiorespiratory events occurred at a much lower frequency when the infants were exposed to MSS versus to routine hospital noise and sounds. This effect was statistically significant in infants of 33 weeks gestation or older.

"Our findings are promising in showing that exposure to MSS could help preterm infants in the short-term by reducing cardiorespiratory events. The results also suggest that there is a period of time when the infant's auditory development is most intact that this intervention of MSS could be most impactful," Lahav said. "However, given our small sample size of 14 infants, further research is needed to determine if this intervention could have an impact on the care and health of preterm infants."

This research was funded by support from Christopher Joseph Concha Foundation, Hailey's Hope Foundation, Capita Foundation, Heather on Earth Foundation, John Alden Trust, Learning Disabilities Foundation of America, LifeSpan HealthCare and The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and Phillips Healthcare.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Capita Sponsored Team Wins GSMA Mobile Health University Challenge

GSMA Announces the Finalists and Overall Winner of Its Inaugural Mobile Health University Challenge.

The GSMA, in collaboration with the Qtel Group and Qualcomm Incorporated, today announced the finalists and overall winner of its inaugural Mobile Health University Challenge, a global competition that highlights key mobile health initiatives taking place within the university community, and which are being showcased this week at the GSMA-mHealth Alliance Mobile Health Summit 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

During the challenge, teams of university students from around the world were asked to develop a mobile health concept that would address a specific healthcare need. From the initial group of entrants, the top 13 teams were invited to attend this week's finals at the GSMA-mHealth Alliance Mobile Health Summit to present their ideas to a judging panel comprised of venture capitalists and major players in the mobile and health industries. From these 13 teams, four were chosen to present to the judging panel in a final round, and from the final four, one overall winner was selected.

The winner of the challenge was the joint team of MIT from the US, sponsored by the Capita Foundation and the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Norte from Brazil for its Sana AudioPulse. As the winning team, MIT and the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Norte will be offered mentoring towards the future development of their innovation and the opportunity to exhibit at key industry events such as the GSMA's Connected Living Latin America Summit, which is being held in Brazil in June 2012.

"The teams were challenged and encouraged to use their originality and creativity to create a compelling and viable mHealth solution, and we commend the enthusiasm and commitment shown by all those who took part in our inaugural competition," said Jeanine Vos, Executive Director, mHealth at the GSMA. "Our congratulations to the winning team, MIT and the Federal University of Rio Grande Do Norte, and our thanks to all those who participated."

For more information on the innovative solutions put forward by the final four teams, please visit: www.gsma.com/connectedliving/gsma-mobile-health-university-challenge.