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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

Gauteng business community experiences UFS
2010-09-23

Prof. Matie Hoffman from the Department of Physics of the UFS, presenting at the Boyden Observatory to a group of business executives from Gauteng, during their recent visit to the university.
Photo: Gerhard Louw

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Corporate Liaison Office recently hosted a group of eleven business men and women from the private sector in Gauteng on its Main Campus in Bloemfontein. The purpose of the campus visits, which are held two to three times a year, is to give representatives from the corporate sector the opportunity to get to know the UFS first-hand and to help build the brand of the university as a national asset.

During their visit the group of business men and women, amongst others, met with faculty members, they enjoyed a networking session with UFS staff at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, visited the Unit for Students with Disabilities as well as the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The day ended at the Boyden Observatory where a feedback session was facilitated by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, and Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations. After this opportunity where the visitors discussed their experience of the UFS, the day came to an end with a presentation on: The African skies: Stories and science by a Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Physics, Mr Bosco Oruru. One of the highlights of the evening included a sighting of the Hubble Telescope in the sky over Bloemfontein and observing the moon and Venus through one of the Boyden telescopes.

The visitors left with new insights and a great appreciation for the contribution of the UFS to education, research and community service in South Africa.

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