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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Science-for-the-Future host learners at Boyden Observatory
2017-06-15

Description: Science-for-the-Future  Tags: Science-for-the-Future

Prof Jan Smit from the North-West University captivated
the learners with his presentation.
Photo: Supplied

In order to advance innovative Mathematics and Science teaching and learning, Science-for-the-Future from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Education hosted close to 100 Grade 10 Mathematics and Science achievers from 18 local secondary schools at the Boyden Observatory in Bloemfontein on 7 June 2017.

According to Dr Cobus van Breda, the Programme Director of Science-for-the-Future, the purpose of such events is also “to encourage learners to enter into science-related studies and careers, including the teaching profession, since we are in desperate need of good Maths and Science teachers in South Africa”.

The evening included contributions by two visiting National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) award-winning presenters.

Prof Peter Dunsby from the Cosmology and Gravity Centre at the University of Cape Town gave the audience much to think about with his presentation titled ‘From the Big Bang to the Big Rip. Should we be afraid of the Dark Side of the Universe?’

Prof Jan Smit from the North-West University, on the other hand, explained basic Physics concepts using mostly household items. Mariette Erwee and Prof Matie Hoffman from the UFS concluded the evening with stargazing through the telescopes, as well as an open-air session on constellations.

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