PPD, Inc. and IDA Ireland (Investment and Development Agency) have announced that PPD plans to expand its contract research operations into Athlone, Ireland, by initially establishing a cGMP analytical testing laboratory to meet growing client demand in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for these services. PPD expects to create approximately 250 jobs at the facility, including Ph.D.-level scientists, analytical laboratory staff and other clinical development professionals. It plans to invest up to $18 million (€14 million) to develop the facility, which is expected to begin operations by the second half of 2009. The cGMP lab will conduct testing for clinical programs spanning all phases of drug development. “Ireland offers a business-friendly climate and highly skilled work force, and we believe it is the right location to expand our lab operations,” said Fred Eshelman, chief executive officer of PPD. “The proximity to the Athlone Institute of Technology and the support of the Irish Government, in particular, IDA Ireland, were key factors in our decision as we plan our future growth for this strategic part of our business.” Ireland’s Prime Minister [Taoiseach] Brian Cowen TD welcomed the announcement at a news conference in Athlone this morning where he said, “PPD is a world leader in contract research, and its decision to choose Ireland for this strategically important and knowledge-driven activity is very significant for the Midlands Region and the country. “Today’s investment will lead to the creation of up to 250 high value-added jobs and is a substantial contribution to the regional economy and a tremendous addition to our scientific and life sciences industry base.” The cGMP lab will be licensed by the Irish Medicines Board. It will offer clients analytical testing services in method development and validation, stability and quality control testing for all phases of drug development, with particular emphasis on inhalation and biopharmaceutical products.