The contract research organisation (CRO), which is currently based in Reston, Virginia, said it was planning to invest $2.9m (€2m) for the upgrade. PRA's chief executive Terrance Bieker said that the firm's current headquarters in Reston are, "purely a corporate administrative office with no operational functions." "After conducting a comprehensive analysis, we have determined that relocating to the Raleigh area will allow PRA to tap into a stronger market for operational resources, place us in closer proximity to existing and potential new clients, provide ready access to a highly qualified talent pool and reduce our infrastructure costs," he said. He added that the company expects to begin "aggressive hiring" in October with the objective to employ around 500 administrative and operations staff over the next five years - which would represent a 15 per cent increase of its workforce. PRA will then be based near two of its major clinical outsourcing rivals, Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) which is based in Wilmington and privately held firm Quintiles, headquartered in Durham. PRA said the move affects 37 people located in or working regionally out of the Reston office. Most employees have been "invited" to move and the firm is awaiting their final decision. Of those unable to move, some will become home based and a few others will relocate to the company's offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the CRO plans to continue some of its corporate support services. The company said it would take a charge of around $1.7m associated with the relocation. This latest announcement comes on the heels of a $790m merger deal PRA signed in July with San Francisco-based private equity firm Genstar Capital, and which is expected to close by the end of the year. However, the company stressed that the plans to relocate the headquarters were "independent of the merger transaction." PRA conducts clinical trials on drugs, with a focus in oncology, central nervous system, allergy and respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.