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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Science is diversifying the uses of traditional medicines
2017-07-17

Description: Dr Motlalepula Matsabisa  Tags: traditional medicines, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Dr Motlalepula Matsabisa, Malaria, priority disease  

Dr Motlalepula Matsabisa.
Photo: Anja Aucamp

According to the World Health Organisation, a large majority of the African population are making use of traditional medicines for health, socio-cultural, and economic purposes. In Africa, up to 80% of the population uses traditional medicines for primary healthcare.

The Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) was identified as a lead programme under the directorship of Dr Motlalepula Matsabisa. Research undertaken by the IKS Lead Programme focuses on some key priority diseases of the country and region – including malaria, HIV, cancer, and diabetes.
 
Not just a plant or tree

Malaria is a priority disease and is prevalent in rural and poor areas, resulting in many traditional health practitioners claiming to treat and cure the disease. There may well be substance to these claims, since as much as 30% of the most effective current prescription medicines are derived from plants.  For instance, chloroquine, artemisinin for malaria, Metformin for diabetes, Vincristine and Vinblastine for cancer, are plant-derived drugs.  

Dr Matsabisa’s current research is investigating a South African medicinal plant that has been shown to have in vitro antiplasmodial activity, with subsequent isolation and characterisation of novel non-symmetrical sesquiterpene lactone compounds offering antimalarial activity. These novel compounds are now patented in South Africa and worldwide. This research is part of the UFS and South Africa’s strive to contribute to the regional and continental malaria problem. The UFS are thus far the only university that has been granted a permit by the Medicines Control Council to undertake research on cannabis and its potential health benefits.

“All of these projects are aimed
at adding value through the scientific
research of medicinal plants, which
can be used for treating illnesses,
diseases, and ailments.”

Recognition well deservedThrough Dr Matsabisa’s research input and contributions to the development of the pharmacology of traditional medicines, he recently became the first recipient of the International Prof Tuhinadrin Sen Award from the International Society of Ethnopharmacology (ISE) and the Society of Ethnopharmacology in India. ISE recognises outstanding contributions by researchers, scientists, and technologists in the area of medicinal plant research and ethnopharmacology internationally.

More recently, Dr Matsabisa undertook research projects funded by the National Research Foundation, as well as the Department of Science and Technology, on cancer, gangrene, and diabetes. He is also involved in a community project to develop indigenous teas with the community. He says, “All of these projects are aimed at adding value through the scientific research of medicinal plants, which can be used for treating illnesses, diseases, and ailments”.

Dr Matsabisa has worked with many local and international scientists on a number of research endeavours. He is grateful to his colleagues from the Department of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Health Sciences, who are dedicated to science research and the research of traditional medicines. The IKS unit also received immense support from the Directorate of Research Development.

 

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