UK-based contract research organisation (CRO) Chiltern has stepped up its presence in Russia and the wider Central and Eastern European (CEE) market by opening an office in St. Petersburg.

The new office will be headed by Dr Alexey Kornilov, who was recently appointed general manager of Chiltern’s Russian operations. Dr Kornilov, a member of the St. Petersburg Society of Anaesthesiology, brings more than 10 years of clinical experience to Chiltern.

The St. Petersburg office is expected to grow rapidly under his leadership, with a primary focus on supporting Chiltern’s Global Clinical Development brand. The CRO has conducted a number of trials in Russia over the last few years to meet sponsors’ demands in the region and take advantage of “highly qualified investigator sites generating high quality data”, it noted.

“The opening of our St. Petersburg office is a logical next step in Chiltern’s continued growth in Central and Eastern Europe,” commented Dr Armand Czaplinski, general manager, CEE. “Today, with an ever higher number of competing trials, the pharmaceutical industry increasingly recognises the potential of CEE countries to meet enrollment goals.”

Chiltern’s international network includes 20 offices in Europe, the US and India. In Central and Eastern Europe, the CRO has already established a presence with offices in Kiev (Ukraine), Warsaw (Poland) and Prague (Czech Republic).

Extending its global reach both organically and through acquisition has been one strand of Chiltern’s business strategy since its acquisition by private investment group Czura Thornton in July 2006.

Last October the CRO snapped up Bristol, US-based Clinical Trial Management Services (CTMS) and appointed the company’s president and chief executive officer John Vann to head up its American operations. In February Chiltern strengthened its early-phase offering by acquiring Drug Development Solutions (DDS), a Phase I specialist in Dundee, Scotland.

The company is also looking at opportunities in Asia and Latin America.