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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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UFS Research Report launched
2010-08-25

 
Seen here, are Prof. Nerad and Prof. Jansen
Photo: Stephen Collett

The Directorate Research Development launched the University of the Free State’s (UFS) 2009 Research Report in August 2010. Prof. Frans Swanepoel, Director: Research Development, highlighted progress, future research development direction and several exceptional institutional research achievements, with special focus on the women researchers who are changing the face of research excellence at the UFS. Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, emphasised outstanding research performance as a fundamental element to the vision of the UFS and introduced Prof. Maresi Nerad, founding Director of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education (CIRGE) and Associate Professor for Higher Education in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Programme at the College of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, as keynote speaker at the event. Prof. Nerad argued for a “global-village approach” to doctoral education, calling for a coordinated effort at many levels of higher education and beyond in supporting and developing our young researchers.

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