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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

Academic receives honorary medal in Slovakia
2008-10-09

 

Prof Riaan Luyt (right) receives his medal from the Director of the Polymer Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dr Jozef Rychly.

  

Prof Riaan Luyt, professor in Chemistry and head of the Natural Sciences Programme at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State, received an honorary medal from the Polymer Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences on Monday 29 September during a conference in the High Tatras mountains of Slovakia.

During the event Prof Luyt also presented a lecture entitled ‘Paraffin wax in polymer blends and composites: Is it worth investigating?’. In this lecture he gave an overview of the research that he and his group did over a period of 10 years in collaboration with scientists at this institute. The results of this research was published in eighteen international papers and one research book chapter.

Prof Luyt’s research at the Qwaqwa Campus involves polymer blends and composites, and he has already published 82 papers in international, peer reviewed journals, as well as two book chapters. At present his research group consists of nine doctoral and five master’s degree students, as well as a postdoctoral fellow. The postdoctoral fellow is from Nigeria, and one of the doctoral students is from Sudan.

Prof Luyt and his group collaborate formally internationally with groups in Kottayam (India), Modena (Italy), Budapest (Hungary) and Bratislava (Slovakia). He also collaborates informally with groups at the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch, and with a group in Johor Bahru (Malaysia).

He previously received recognition for his research from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (Award for Outstanding Research in 2005) and from the Qwaqwa Campus of the UFS (Jubilee Medal and Certificate for Outstanding Research in 2007).
 

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