What is GRASP?

Recently, I participated in a relatively new program in conjunction with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting called GRASP. GRASP stands for Guiding Researchers and Advocates to Scientific Partnerships.

What is GRASP?

Founded by two patient advocates living with metastatic breast cancer, Christine Hodgdon and Julie Maués, GRASP was created to foster connections between cancer researchers and advocates. GRASP coordinates poster walkthroughs at oncology conferences, virtual discussions between conferences to encourage continuing learning, and a registry of advocates and researchers. The goal of the program is mutual learning and relationship building in order to accelerate progress in cancer research.

Since ASCO 2021 was a virtual meeting, the GRASP poster walk I participated in was also virtual, although these events have taken place in person in the past and will again in the future. I was paired with a lung cancer researcher, thoracic surgeon Dr. Jessica Donington from the University of Chicago, to run the discussion on two posters related to early-stage lung cancer. Other lung cancer GRASP sessions that were available were on the topics of small cell lung cancer, liquid biopsies, KRAS lung cancer, and targeted therapies.

Each session included a scientist and a patient advocate, like myself, who acted as a mentor. Patient advocates of all experience levels were invited to participate, but group size was kept small in order to allow better discussions. In my group, we had two patient advocates in addition to myself and Dr. Donington. My role as mentor was to keep the conversation flowing and make sure the discussion didn’t turn into a lecture. Our participants asked lots of questions and shared their own experiences. We had a great discussion!

GRASP sessions bring science and personal stories together

The GRASP poster session truly was different from any poster analysis I have participated in before as a patient advocate. GRASP encourages all attendees to go beyond the scientific poster and search for the personal connections and perspective sharing that can lead to improved knowledge for everyone involved. As mentioned on the website, patient advocates who participate can “connect with scientists working on cutting-edge research and learn about the biology of cancer...share patient perspectives with researchers to inform new goals and drive better research...become an advocate to elevate the voice of patients and accelerate finding promising treatments.”

Interesting in learning more about GRASP?

ASCO 2021 was the first time that lung cancer advocates and scientists participated in GRASP. Over 30 individual sessions took place focused on posters from a number of different types of cancer. However, if you missed ASCO21, you will soon have another opportunity to take part in a GRASP poster walk!

GRASP and IASLC (International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer) are partnering to offer sessions during the World Conference on Lung Cancer 2021, which will take place virtually this fall from September 8-14, 2021.

If you are interested in sharing your patient perspective and understanding more about the science behind cancer research, please check out graspcancer.org. You can join now and you will be notified when new events are available!

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