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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

Acting Rector visits USA universities
2009-04-17

 
 Prof. Verschoor (second from the left, front) and the delegation during the visit to the Appalachian State University.
Photo: Supplied
The Acting Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Teuns Verschoor, recently returned from an extensive visit to the United States of America (USA). He was accompanied by Prof. Aldo Stroebel, Director International Affairs, and Mr Arthur Johnson, Coordinator at the International Office. An institutional agreement has been signed between the UFS and Appalachian State University (ASU), which will focus on staff and student exchange, within the ambit of service learning initiatives. Prof; Mabel Erasmus, Head of Service Learning at the university’s Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD), joined Prof. Verschoor and the delegation for the ASU part of the visit. Proff. Verchoor and Stroebel also interviewed potential Fulbright Senior Specialists to participate in the conceptualisation of the proposed International Institute for Diversity. They had discussions with Mellon Foundation representatives and it is planned that the UFS will participate in a networking and showcasing event to potential international donors later during 2009 at Princeton University under the auspices of Seton Hall University, New York. Discussions took place with several staff at Cornell University, including Prof. Alice Pell, Vice-Provost for International Affairs, and Prof. Muna Ndulo, Director of the Institute for African Development. It has been agreed that an institutional memorandum of agreement will be signed between the UFS and Cornell early in the second semester following the assumption of duty of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor Designate, Prof. Jonathan Jansen. Prof Jansen is an alumnus of Cornell University

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