US-based contract research organisation (CRO) PPD is opening a new US office on the North Carolina (NC) Research Campus in Kannapolis, a US$1.5 billion project helmed by billionaire David Murdock, chairman and owner of Castle & Cooke and Dole Food Company.

PPD’s move into 40,000 sq ft of office space is expected to create 200-300 new jobs for clinical research associates, clinical project managers and associated medical and scientific personnel over a 24- to 36-month period. To help satisfy that demand, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in North Carolina is developing a certificate and a degree programme for clinical research associates.

PPD will share the new facilities in the NC Research Campus’ Medical Office Building with Carolinas Healthcare System.

“For a couple of years, I have heard many great things about the NC Research Campus,” commented Fred Eshelman, chief executive officer of PPD. “After meeting with Mr Murdock and visiting the campus, I realised this project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where industry and academic scientists can freely collaborate to bring innovations in scientific research to market, increasing the length and quality of human life.”

The campus is a public-private partnership involving Murdock, Duke University, the University of North Carolina system and the North Carolina Community College system.

It was conceived as an “epicentre” for research in biotechnology, nutrition and health and includes the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory, which will house state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for molecular genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, analytical chemistry, animal imaging, histochemistry, microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Ground was broken for the laboratory, the NC Research Campus’ centrepiece and first building, in February 2006. The campus occupies a 250-acre site formerly owned by textile manufacturer Cannon Mills, which Murdock acquired through his Pacific Holding Company back in 1982. He sold the bulk of Cannon Mills on to Fieldcrest Mills in December 1985.