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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

Young language Einstein set for Europe
2017-07-10

Description: Young language Einstein set for Europe Tags: Recipient of UFS Senate medal receives Erasmus Mundus master’s bursary.  

Willem Carel Brink will be studying in France and Italy
for the next 
two years as part of his master’s
degree programme
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

German, French, English and even Latin are just a few of the languages known by Kovsies’ own language guru, Willem Carel Brink.

This arty junior lecturer and 2015 Senate and Dean’s medal recipient at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French at the University of the Free State (UFS) received the Erasmus-Mundus bursary to conduct his master’s degree under the Erasmus Mundus Master en Cultures Littératures Européennes (CLE) title. He departs for Europe in September. “It is a structured interdisciplinary study which focuses on European literature, culture and other aspects,” Willem says. The subject for his thesis will be determined during the duration of the course.

Two-year course under Erasmus Mundus 
The Erasmus CLE master’s is a two-year course which is presented by five partner universities in France, Senegal, Italy and Greece. Students are expected to indicate at which universities they want to study but cannot spend both years at the same university. “France was my first choice, because I know the language – which was a prerequisite for selection,” said Willem. He is fluent in Afrikaans, English, German and French! 

“I will spend my second year in Bologna, Italy,” he said. It is therefore also expected that he does an Italian course during the first year to prepare him for the second year in Italy.

Future collaboration with UFS a prospect
Future collaborations between him and the language departments at the UFS are possible prospects for the future when he returns. “What makes this degree especially attractive to me is that it has value in terms of the local environment in the teaching of European languages and literature.” 

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