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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

UFS launches focused research niche areas
2009-11-20

The University of the Free State (UFS) will launch its six research niche areas, the Strategic Academic Clusters, from 23-25 November 2009 on its Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

These Clusters represent a move from a fragmented to a more focused approach to research development at the UFS and will in future direct the University’s research endeavours.

“The UFS is increasingly operating in a competitive environment where South African universities no longer compete only with their national counterparts, but also internationally. With the Clusters the University will follow a focused approach to the strategic selection of niche knowledge platforms and research areas,” says Prof. Frans Swanepoel, Director of Research Development at the UFS.

The Clusters are: Water management in water-scarce areas; New frontiers in poverty reduction and sustainable development; Transformation in highly diverse societies; Technologies for sustainable crop industries in semi-arid regions; Materials and nanosciences; and Advanced biomolecular research.

“The Clusters embody the pursuit of quality and excellence and the name signifies the University’s concern not only with research, but also with under- and postgraduate teaching and learning. The vision is that the Cluster activities will not only drive world-class research outputs, but also contribute to internationally renowned graduate programme activities,” says Prof. Swanepoel.

Each of the Clusters is led by a dedicated director who provides academic leadership, facilitates cutting-edge research, leverages multidisciplinary synergies and coordinates the overall Cluster activities.

Next week’s launch programme will start on Monday, 23 November 2009 with a gala dinner, followed by a plenary symposium on Tuesday, 24 November 2009, during which the Clusters will be introduced.

Several national and international experts in the fields covered by the Clusters will take part in this symposium. They are, amongst others: Dr Danny Walmsley from St Mary’s University in Canada; Dr David Wolfe from Cornell University and Dr David Clark from the National Institute of Health, both in the USA; Mr Mark Ashley from the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre in Australia; Dr Ian Goldman from the Office of the Presidency in South Africa; Prof Peter Ewang from the South African National Development Agency; Mr Willem Louw from Sasol Technology; and Dr Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela from the University of Cape Town.

On Wednesday, 25 November 2009 each Cluster will present its own symposium.

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  
20 November 2009

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