GRASP connecting researchers with patients after #SABCS20

SABCS Blog Post

GRASP moved its signature poster walkthrough program from in-person to virtual which allowed advocates, researchers, and clinicians to participate regardless of their location.

In the same way the pandemic couldn’t stop the 43rd annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the founders of GRASP are determined to continue the program they launched at #SABCS19. The poster walk-throughs will be virtual and take place the week after #SABCS20.

GRASP, which stands for Guiding Researchers and Advocates for Scientific Partnerships, will celebrate its first anniversary at this year’s symposium. The program had a very successful launch of its walk-through program last year. It was created by Christine Hodgdon and Julia Maués, two close friends who are living with metastatic disease and advocating for better and longer lives for others dealing with breast cancer.

At its launch in 2019, advocates walked through the poster sessions with scientists and researchers to talk about the science presented. The advocates learned about the research and the scientists learned how the research was affecting the lives of those dealing with the disease every day.

“With virtual conferences we’ve had to pick our brain to come up with alternatives,” Maués said. “But we’ve found a way and it actually works quite well.”

Like other virtual conferences, SABCS will release its posters on one day and make them available for months after the conference.

“We surveyed the scientists who volunteered their time about their availability and decided it was going to be after SABCS because we knew how packed this week is for everyone,” Maués said.

Participants will receive a link to login for the walk-throughs. After a brief introduction they “leave” for virtual breakout rooms. Every group will have a scientist and at least one veteran advocate. Each walk-through is two hours and will cover two posters.

“At first, people want more posters, but actually, when you really discuss it and everyone provides their view, it takes the whole two hours,” Maués said.

So far, there are 38 groups signed up for the virtual walk-throughs which will be Monday and Tuesday. There is still room for a few advocates, but they have plenty of scientists signed up. They ask any interested scientists to visit the website and sign up for leading future walk-throughs.

To participate as an advocate, you must be a member of GRASP. Registration for the group is free and open along with registration for the walk-throughs. You can get more information at