(Photo courtesy of Elena Zhukova/University of California)

The University of California said it will provide $2 million in seed funding to scientists across the state to help jump-start high-impact research projects and accelerate urgently-needed breakthroughs to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The university said it administers funding through three statewide research grants focused on breast cancer, tobacco-related disease and HIV/AIDS, among others, and will support the new projects on COVID-19 research.

“Given that people who suffer from breast cancer, HIV and tobacco-related diseases are also among those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, it made sense to begin urgently directing some of that research funding to this global pandemic,” Theresa Maldonado, UC’s vice president of systemwide research and innovation, said in a statement.

Maldonado said, “Our goal is to seed work in areas that can have a big impact in a short amount of time and to help the California communities that need it most.”

UC said awards of up to $25,000 are available immediately.

The university said the goal is to help researchers begin work as soon as possible because COVID-19 continues to affect thousands of people globally.

UC said it will evaluate research proposals as soon as they are received.

Priority will be given to proposals that meet three criteria: a strong potential for impacting the pandemic in the near term, the ability of researchers to start work right away and a research focus that will help California’s most vulnerable populations.