The contract research organisation (CRO) said it initiated the growth plans in order to meet growing client demand for studies in the early phases of clinical development, "as biopharmaceutical companies have been conducting more Phase I and proof of concept (PoC) studies with increasing complexity". Clinical Pharmacology Research Units located in Baltimore, Maryland in the US; London, UK; and Berlin, Germany, have been the recipients of the investment. In Baltimore, the unit has been expanding capabilities and capacity for client programs since its inception in 2001. Following the most recent expansion, it now has 90 beds. This facility focuses on areas such as vaccine and immunology research, pulmonary, and oncology studies, and provides leading offerings such as advanced neuro imaging and radiochemistry capabilities using positron emission tomography (PET). At the same time Parexel's site in London has been expanded to a 64-bed capacity. The unit has expertise in conducting cardiology and respiratory studies, with a dedicated respiratory laboratory and cardiac telemetry and electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring capabilities. In addition, the CRO´s two research units in Berlin now have 160 total beds. The twin facilities have sleep research capabilities and a sleep laboratory, as well as a specialisation in cardiovascular, central nervous system, respiratory, dermatology, metabolism and endocrine, and infectious disease studies. Herman Scholtz, Parexel´s head of International Clinical Pharmacology, said that the firm´s Phase I service business now has a total of more than 550 beds, "which is among the largest capacities worldwide". In addition to the abovementioned units, the company also has clinical pharmacology research units in San Diego and Los Angeles in the United States, and in Bloemfontein and George, South Africa, and also delivers early clinical development programs through a joint venture arrangement with Synchron Research based in India. Meanwhile, some of Parexel´s competitors have been making expansions moves in their early-phase businesses as this area of the clinical research services industry heats up. A month ago PRA International expanded its Phase I capabilities with the opening of a new clinical pharmacology facility in Kansas, US. 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. Moreover, in February 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. The facility also has a cardiac safety testing centre with 65 beds.