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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. 


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Placing of new first-year students in residences to change
2009-09-12

As of 2010, new first-year students who study at the University of the Free State (UFS) will be fully integrated in the residences. This will be done as part of the university’s objective to increase diversity in its residences.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, made this proposal to the UFS Council yesterday during its quarterly meeting as an alternative to his idea of having exclusively first-year residences as of next year. The proposal was unanimously supported by the Council.

“I have discussed my idea of having first-year residences widely with many stakeholders and, based on the feedback I received, decided not to go ahead, but to make a proposal to Council that first-year students be placed in residences with a 50/50 racial balance in which no student grouping dominates. It is a proposal that most role players are comfortable with and which will cause the least disruption to our senior students,” said Prof. Jansen.

“We must create a new culture in our residences. Our residences must be places where academic work enjoys priority in the organisation and culture of the residences. The university has many goals, one of which is that students learn to live and learn together so that they are better equipped to face the challenges of the modern workplace,” he said.

From next year, new first-year students will be placed centrally in residences by the university management, with some participation of senior students.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
12 September 2009

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