SmartTots : Making Anesthesia Safer for Children

SmartTots brings world-renowned physicians and researchers together to study and improve anesthesia use for children.

About SmartTots

The SmartTots program is a multi-year collaborative effort designed to increase the safety of anesthetic and sedative drugs for the millions of children who undergo anesthesia and sedation each year.

To address the growing concern about the potential adverse consequences of general anesthesia in young patients, in 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a public-private partnership with the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS). The partnership, entitled SmartTots is working together with multiple stakeholders, including academic research institutions, medical professionals and societies, and other government and nonprofit organizations to address scientific and clinical gaps regarding the safe use of anesthetics and sedatives in children. While non-human studies confirm a link between anesthesia use and damage to the developing brain in animals, currently there is insufficient clinical evidence to establish a clear link between the effects of these drugs on the development of the human brain. SmartTots is working to address the gaps in research and make anesthesia and sedation safer for children around the world.

Research funded through SmartTots investigates multiple aspects of existing anesthetics and their administration, including dosage and exposure. Findings from these studies will establish new practice guidelines and, as necessary, new age-appropriate anesthetics.

About the IARS

The IARS is anesthesiology’s non-political organization focused on providing scientific and evidence-based safe anesthesia care. Founded in 1922, the IARS contributes more than $1 million annually to fund anesthesia research and provides a forum for leaders in anesthesia research to share information and ideas. Membership includes physicians and others engaged in anesthesia-related practice, research, and training worldwide.

Data, outcomes and best practices generated by SmartTots research will be placed in the public domain.

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Scientific Presentations

View our entire archive of scientific presentations.

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Advice for Providers & Parents

SmartTots has released a Consensus Statement regarding the safety of anesthetics and sedatives administered to infants and young children.
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View our most frequently asked questions.

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The SmartTots Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is an interdisciplinary group of scientific and medical professionals responsible for determining the scientific priorities and research direction of SmartTots. This group solicits, reviews, and selects pediatric anesthesia research projects to receive grant funding.


Alex Evers, MD, Co-Chair Washington University in St. Louis

Dean Andropoulos, MD Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine

Emery N. Brown, M.D, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital/MIT/Harvard Medical School

Tomás Guilarte, PhD Columbia University

Terrie E. Inder, MD Washington University in St. Louis

Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, MD, PhD, MBA University of Colorado School of Medicine

Mervyn Maze, MB, ChB University of California, San Francisco

Phil Morgan, MD University of Washington

Beverley Orser, MD, PhD, FRCPC University of Toronto

Leonard Rappaport, MD, MS Boston Children’s Hospital


The SmartTots Steering Committee provides overall coordination, management, direction, and oversight of the initiative. It is comprised of representatives from the IARS and FDA and includes two chairs, one representative from FDA and one representative from IARS. The Steering Committee oversees appointments to the Executive Board, Scientific Advisory Board, and Affiliate Advisory Council.

Santhanam Suresh, MD, Co-Chair | Emery Brown, MD, PhD | Alex Evers, MD | Beverley Orser, MD, PhD | Christian Werner, MD


Sharon Hertz, MD, Co-Chair | Allison Lin, PhD, PharmD | Rigoberto Roca, MD | William Slikker, Jr, PhD | John Talpos, PhD


Lena S. Sun, MD

Tom Cooper, Executive Director | Tricia Brazil, Program Manager