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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 opens new Research and UDRAW writing unit
2010-08-27

 
Ms Huibré Lombard, Prof. Driekie Hay and Prof. Louis Venter in front of the newly opened UDRAW facility in the UFS Sasol Library.
Photo: Christiaan van der Merwe

The Library and Information Services Division at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently opened two brand-new facilities in the UFS Sasol Library, which includes a new research unit for postgraduate students as well as a new UDRAW Unit (Unit for the Development of Rhetorical and Academic Writing).

The opening of both units is the culmination of planning that originally started with Ms Huibré Lombard, Acting Director of the division Library and Information Services at the UFS, and Prof. Louis Venter, Head of UDRAW, back in 2005. The facilities were officially opened by the Vice-Rector: Teaching and Learning, Prof. Driekie Hay.

The research centre caters for postgraduate students, specifically for those studying towards a Masters or Doctoral degree at the UFS. The centre will help students by supplying advanced research information and specialised staff to cater for their needs. It will also serve as a quiet environment where students can come and work. The UDRAW facility will help shape the writing of postgraduate students as well as supervisors and also provide classes and consultations to further develop the research language of the students. An added benefit for students is that both services are provided free of charge to registered senior postgraduate students at our university.

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