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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 of Theology hosts conference on theology and science
2010-03-25

 
At the conference were, from the left: Prof. Rian Venter, Department of Systematic Theology at the UFS and organiser of the conference; Prof. Isabel Phiri, University of KwaZulu-Natal; Prof. André van Niekerk, Stellenbosch University; Prof. Francois Tolmie, Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the UFS; and Prof. Wentzel van Huyssteen, Princeton, USA.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


The Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS) presented an interdisciplinary conference with the theme faith, religion and the public university this week.

The conference was preceded by a public lecture: Human Uniqueness? In Search of the Image of God by Prof. Wentzel van Huyssteen of Princeton in the United States of America (USA). In his lecture he asks: What makes humans different from animals? He also discusses the statement: Is there something that science can teach theologians and something that theologians can teach science?

In his lecture Prof. van Huyssteen refers to the prehistoric paintings in, among others, Spain, France and also Mossel Bay in South Africa. According to him these rock paintings shed some interesting light on the nature of humankind. “It seems as if there is a possible religious connotation to these paintings. Among others it becomes clear that man has the ability to ask deeper questions about his existence,” said Prof. van Huyssteen.

This find of prehistoric paintings is also an example of an interdisciplinary search for answers to the question: What makes man different from other species?

The rock art also shows that man sees himself as part of nature. “Being the image of God” has also to do with an awareness of nature and man’s special task therein as image bearer of God,” said Prof. van Huyssteen.

These are interesting perspectives given by other sciences on the nature of man. From the theology the perspective of “man created to the image of God” is added. At this occasion speakers from different disciplines such as law, physics, sociology, philosophy and theology participated in the discussion about the position of religion at a public university.

Other main speakers at this occasion were Prof. Isabel Phiri from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Prof. Anton van Niekerk from Stellenbosch University.
 

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