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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

Faculty delivers one of the first doctorates in a black Hebrew religious tradition
2009-10-12

Black Hebrew Pentecostalism is a religious tradition neglected in research until a recent doctoral thesis brought its rich tradition to the research community. Dr Fred Sherron, Bishop of the Gideon Knights of Yahshua Messiah, Brooklyn, USA, received his PhD in Theology in April this year at the University of the Free State. He studied two communities in New York, disclosing unique features of these communities, resulting in a unique spirituality. This research has made contributions, not only to the general corpus of knowledge of this religious tradition, but also to the academic discipline of spirituality. This was one of the first doctoral theses in spirituality at the Faculty of Theology, also enlarging the international alumni of the faculty. Prof. Rian Venter from the Department of Systematic Theology was his promoter. During the presentation of the certificate were, from the left: Prof. Francois Tolmie, Dean: Faculty of Theology; Dr Sherron; and Prof. Venter.
Photo: Lyzette Hoffman.

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