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Alexander Proffitt transfers samples from tubes to plates at PPD Laboratories in Henrico County on Monday.

A drug research and development company is planning to expand its operations in Henrico County, creating 200 jobs.

Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC said Thursday it is expanding its bioanalytical laboratory on Dabney Road. The company's 250,000-square-foot laboratory and office complex already has been expanded several times and now employs about 1,000 people.

The company's investment in the latest expansion is worth about $63.7 million, Gov. Ralph Northam's office announced. 

Based in Wilmington, N.C., PPD provides contract drug-development research and testing for pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology and medical device companies, as well as academic and government organizations.

The company supports numerous drug and vaccine development programs globally, said Christopher Fikry, executive vice president of PPD Laboratories.

The laboratory has operated in Henrico under different owners since 1985.

"The business has close to doubled in the last five years," he said. "There is good momentum. A lot of it is frankly due to the local scientific population. We have been able to recruit a lot of good talent."

The new jobs in Henrico will include a variety of positions from laboratory workers to information technology specialists, project managers and doctorate-level scientists, executives for PPD said. The company is expecting to hire for the new jobs through 2021.

The expansion includes adding 8,000 square feet to PPD's Henrico campus for immunochemistry and biomarker lab space. The company said it also plans to add 30,000 square feet of space on the campus for chromatography services, and it plans to add a 4,500-square-foot cell lab.

To make room for more laboratory space at the Dabney Road complex, this summer PPD moved its local administrative staff into 36,000-square-foot office at One Holland Place on Staples Mill Road across from the Libbie Mill Midtown development.

PPD was founded in 1985 and has offices in 46 countries and more than 22,000 employees worldwide.

The latest expansion plans build on previous investments the company has made in Henrico, including enhancements to its vaccine sciences, biomarker, genomics and automation services.  In 2017, for instance, the company added 17,000 square feet of space to its vaccine sciences lab.

The Henrico laboratory opened in 1985 as Cal Lab East, an East Coast division of California Analytical Laboratory. The ownership and name of the laboratory changed several times in the 1980s and 1990s because of various mergers and acquisitions in the industry. It previously operated as Enseco Inc., Pharmaceutical Sciences Laboratory, and Pharmaco.

The Henrico facility became part of PPD in 1996 as part of the company's acquisition of Applied Bioscience International. The local facility now operates as PPD Laboratories.

Northam approved a $675,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to support Henrico with the project. Northam also approved a $450,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Performance program.

Henrico officials have been working with the company on the expansion plans for about a year, said Anthony Romanello, executive director of the Henrico County Economic Development Authority.

"We know they looked at a number of different sites" for the expansion, Romanello said.

The local facility is one of the largest bioanalytical labs in the world, according to the company.

"It is phenomenal to have that here and to get that kind of investment," Romanello said.  "These are good jobs. These are high-tech jobs."

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