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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

New schools, restructuring part of streamlined Faculty of Health Sciences
2017-10-12

 Description: Health Sciences staff 2 Tags: Faculty of Health Sciences, five-school structure, Prof Gert van Zyl, Pathology, Biomedical Sciences  

From the left, front are: Dr Jocelyn Naicker,
Prof Gert van Zyl, Prof Magda Mulder;
back from left: Prof Chris Viljoen,
Marlene Viljoen, Deputy Director: Faculty of Health Sciences;
Prof Nathaniel Mofolo; and Prof Santie van Vuuren.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin


Numerous developments, such as the creation of two new schools and one newly restructured School of Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), will catapult this renowned faculty to even greater heights.

Five-school structure to increase access
 
A five-school structure was proposed at the annual Faculty Management retreat in July 2016. The previous three-school model included the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions.

The current School of Medicine has been restructured and will henceforth be known as the School of Clinical Medicine. The Schools of Pathology and Biomedical Sciences have been added to the faculty. “So, three new schools were in fact created within the faculty,” said Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the faculty.   

“There was also a request from the National Health Laboratory Services to group academics that is rendering services in pathology into a new School of Pathology.” This is what motivated the faculty management to create two new schools.

Esteemed academics appointed 

With the creation of the new schools, there were also new appointments within the Faculty of Health Sciences. Dr Jocelyn Naicker has been appointed as the new part-time Head of the School of Pathology, Prof Chris Viljoen was appointed as the part-time Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences, and Prof Nathaniel Mofolo as the new Head of the School of Clinical Medicine. Prof Santie van Vuuren remains Head of the School of Allied Health Professions, and Prof Magda Mulder as the head of the School of Nursing. 

Research outputs to remain as usual
The addition of the new schools will not impact research output. “In the past, research was done across departmental boundaries between all the departments in the faculty,” Prof Van Zyl said. The advantages of adding two additional schools are that the workload will be distributed among the five schools. The heads of schools will work within their respective disciplines and related areas, and will eliminate the duplication of administrative functions.

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