VANCOUVER -- A professor at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University is leading a new national program with the goal of helping Canadians better prepare for future pandemics.

Professor Caroline Colijn will oversee the Canadian Network for Modelling Infectious Disease, supported by $2.5 billion in federal funding over the next two years. The network will inform decisions related to public health threats.

"In the past year we've really seen modelling come to the forefront of public conversation in a way that we never have before. People know about variants and they know about exponential growth and they know about flattening the curve," Colijn told CTV News Vancouver.

"Those are all concepts from infectious disease modelling and estimation and strong data analysis that we really need when we want to understand how an infection spreads through a population."

The network will help identify gaps to increase more targeted infectious disease surveillance and identify ways to effectively manage them.

The group will also share research problems, models, estimates, data and expertise to support Canada's public health agency.