Recent interest in personalized medicine has highlighted the importance of research in ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI). Issues in ELSI research may be magnified in the rare diseases population (i.e., small numbers of affected individuals, challenges in maintaining confidentiality, and paucity of treatments for diseases where natural history information may be limited). More than other areas of research, potential barriers include the lack of funding opportunities and appropriate review processes for applications to funding agencies. The ELSI Working Group of the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC) performed an informal survey on ELSI funding initiatives to learn more about different funding mechanisms and to identify potential gaps in funding opportunities. The Working Group discusses these challenges and highlights the role of funding agencies and partners such as patient advocacy groups, specialists in social sciences and humanities, and clinicians to advance ELSI research in rare diseases.
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