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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

Prof. Heideman appointed new Dean at the UFS
2010-09-27

Prof. Neil Heideman

Prof. Neil Heideman has been appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS). His appointment was approved by the UFS Council during its recent meeting.

Prof. Heideman has been acting in this position since February this year, prior to which he was the Vice-Dean of the Faculty. He joined the UFS in 2003 as the Programme Head of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the Qwaqwa Campus.

“I see my role as Dean as that of a facilitator of processes that will further strengthen the faculty’s academic capacity, optimise the research environment and create a stimulating teaching and learning environment in which students can develop into skilled critical thinkers and socially responsible, global citizens,” he said.

He chairs the faculty advisory committees such as the Research Committee, Academic Programmes Committee, Community Service Subcommittee, Employment Equity Committee and Buildings Committee. He represents the faculty on the National Science and Technology Forum and the National Science Deans’ Forum, and is also a panel member of the Rhodes Scholarship Adjudication Committee.

He has about 23 years’ university teaching experience, and as a Fulbright Fellow offered a series of seminars on South African conservation issues to senior undergraduate and graduate students at Brigham Young University in the United States in 2007.

He has won several academic awards and is an NRF-rated scientist.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
27 September 2010

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