Non-clinical studies in juvenile animal models show that exposure to commonly used anesthetics and sedatives is associated with neurodegenerative changes in the central nervous system, as well as memory and learning deficits later in life. The scientific and medical communities acknowledge insufficient human data exist to either support or refute the clinical relevance of these findings for pediatric patients. Additional studies are needed to assess the effects of anesthetics and sedatives on the developing human brain, including long-term studies in neonates and young children.


SmartTots is accepting applications aimed at investigating whether anesthetics/sedatives are neurotoxic and/or impede the normal development of the human brain. Projects eligible for funding through this Request for Applications should focus on whether neonatal and early childhood anesthetic exposure in humans impairs brain development resulting in persistent detrimental effects on cognition or behavior. Retrospective or prospective studies in any species will be considered, provided they inform the existence of anesthetic-induced developmental neurotoxicity in humans. Specific questions of interest include:

  1. Do short and/or long anesthetic exposures in human neonates and young children result in neuronal or glial cell death, structural abnormalities of the brain or functional abnormalities of the brain?
  2. Do short and/or long anesthetic exposures in human neonates and young children result in persistent behavioral abnormalities (intellectual, motor, social, emotional etc)?
  3. Are specific anesthetics and sedatives or specific frequency, duration or timing of anesthetic exposure correlated with detrimental effects on brain structure or function in humans?

Submitting a Proposal

All applicants must complete and submit their application via proposalCENTRAL no later than 11:59 EST on October 21, 2011. Please see the RFA Guidelines for more information regarding project eligibility and application requirements. You may also download the full application guidelines and requirements below.

Award Details

Two $100,000 grants were awarded in April 2012. View the grant recipients.

Project Guidelines and Application Format

Request for Applications
RFA Guidelines