LONDON, ONT. -- Western University has started a new $1 million research fund designed to help society survive pandemics.

The new catalyst fund is open to a range of projects for the current COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“We have a lot of really smart, talented people at Western and they can apply their skills and knowledge to this pandemic and to pandemics of the future,” said Sarah Prichard, Western’s acting vice-president research in a news release.

“We’re encouraging them to pivot from their usual thinking and apply their skills to the many pandemic-related issues facing society.”

The cash will be given to a wide array of projects looking at social, economic, technological and health-related aspects to pandemics.

The first phase of grants are expected by May 6. A second phase of applications and grants will take place later this year.