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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. Jansen welcomes students in Leadership Programme back on campus
2010-10-29

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, with Lebohang Molefe, Thabiso Nkohli, Kgotso Maya and Samkelisiwe Zulu.

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Jonathan Jansen, was pleasantly surprised by what the first-year students who went to the United States on a Student Leadership Programme told him on their return.

“I am so happy that these students’ views on life in general have changed for the better in such a short period of time. This trip to the USA has certainly made a big impact on their lives. I sincerely hope that they will use the opportunities offered by the UFS to study even further,” said Prof. Jansen during his recent visit to the Qwaqwa Campus where he met with students who went on a two-week US tour earlier this month.

“The trip to various universities, like the New York University, the Cleveland State University, the Mount Holyoke College, the Cornell University, amongst others, made us to be proud South Africans. We were encouraged by the patriotic spirit displayed by American students and we are confident that UFS students, black and white, can start spreading that to the entire country,” said Kgotso Maya, a BA student majoring in Sociology.

The five students were part of the leadership programme exclusively designed for first-year students.

 

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