The $2m expansion doubles the capacity of PRA's existing Clinical Pharmacology Center in the region to 80 beds. 18 new staff have also been added. Over the next year, PRA indicated that it is also planning to hire 50 more people, 13 nurses and clinical staff for the new pharmacology facility and the reminder to work in its other local operations that run studies in other phases of the clinical development chain. Meanwhile, a number of other contract research organisations (CROs) have been making moves on the Phase I scene of late. Earlier this month, Ireland's Icon bought itself a Phase I base in the US with the acquisition of Healthcare Discoveries. Healthcare Discoveries operates an 85 bed clinical pharmacology unit in San Antonio, Texas, and Icon's CEO Peter Gray said at the time that the new US facility will complement its existing European Phase I operations, which include an existing 80 bed clinical pharmacology unit based in Manchester, England. Around the same time, Chiltern added to its Phase I cache with the purchase of a Scottish business called Drug Development Solutions (DDS). Via the acquisition, the UK-based CRO gained a Phase I unit with 42 high intensity care beds located at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee - one of the UK's major teaching hospitals. According to Chiltern, the unit has expertise in first-in-man studies and in systemic drug phototoxicity studies in humans. It is also one of only a "small number" of Phase I units in the UK that is located within a major hospital that can provide emergency medical services if required, the firm said. Moreover, at the end of January MDS Pharma Services also opened its new Phase I clinic in Arizona - the largest of its kind on the US west coast. Built to the tune of $25m, the new 300-bed facility more than triples the capacity of the firm's Phase I presence in Phoenix, which combined with a nearby existing unit, totals 420 beds. One of the therapeutic focus areas at the new clinic is ophthalmology, and there is an on-site centre dedicated to this specialty area, which "saves time on studies requiring examinations by optometrists and ophthalmologists," a company spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma.com at the time. The facility also has a cardiac safety testing centre with 65 beds. The spokesperson said: "It uses a leansigma-optimised process that allows QTc studies to be run in large groups, expediting these important studies."