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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

High-level Texas delegation visits UFS
2010-08-13

Pictured here, from the left, back, are visitors from Texas and UFS management: Ms Stephanie Curs (Director: Office of the Vice President for Global Initiatives), Dr Edwin Price (Associate Vice-Chancellor for International Agriculture and Director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture), Dr Mike Greenwald (Professor and Program Director for the International Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts), Prof. Ward Wells (Professor and Associate Head for Professional Programs, College of Architecture, and Director of Academy for Visual and Performing Arts), Dr Glen Mills ( Professor and Head of Department of Architecture), and Dr Alan Sams (Executive Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences); front: Prof. Jonathan Jansen (Rector and Vice-Chancellor, UFS), Mr Eric Bost (former USA Ambassador to South Africa and Vice-President for Global Initiatives), and Prof. Ezekiel Moraka (Vice-Rector: External Relations, UFS). – Photo: Stephen Collett.

A high-level delegation from Texas A&M University in the USA, led by Mr Eric Bost, Vice-President Global Initiatives and previous USA Ambassador to South Africa, visited the University of the Free State (UFS) recently. The objective of the visit was to forge strategic linkages and research partnerships within the ambit of Texas A&M’s expanded Africa strategy.

Texas A&M has 50 000 students, and is internationally renowned and highly rated for its scholarship, academic achievement and excellent research profile. The delegation consisted of representatives from the President's Office, various deans and heads of departments.

The discussions during the visit identified a number of shared interests and common research foci, and colleagues were unanimous in their pursuit to strengthen the relations.

In January 2009 Mr Bost delivered his final official address as US Ambassador to South Africa on the UFS Main Campus. Mr Bost, a close friend of the UFS, has since sparked numerous activities to further the transformation agenda at the UFS, and is very supportive of the work of the International Institute for Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. A number of Fulbright senior specialists from the US are participating in the further conceptualisation, roll-out and activities of the Institute.
 

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