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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

Thirteen Scholarships for Science and Mathematics learners awarded
2011-02-15

The Thirteen Scholarship winners are seen here with: Back: Mr Cobus van Breda (Project Manager, School for Continuing Education, far left), Prof. Jonathan Jansen (Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, Second from the right), Prof Dennis Francis (Dean of the Faculty of Education, on the right), Middle: Ms Elizna Prinsloo (School for Continuing Education, left) and Ms. Pearl Nhlane (SANRAL, right).
- Photo: Stephen Collet

Thirteen learners from the University of the Free State (UFS)’s School for Continuing Education (SCE) were successful in their applications for school scholarships at SANRAL (South African National Roads Agency). This represents more than a third of the successful applications countrywide.

The SCE’s ICT Laboratory aims to enable and encourage more learners to enter into science related studies and careers. To achieve this, 180 selected learners from Grade 10, 11 and 12 are exposed to activities at the ICT Laboratory every year. “It is an attempt not only to foster a positive attitude towards Mathematics and Science amongst learners, but also to raise their knowledge and skills levels through e-Education in Science and Mathematics,” says Mr Cobus van Breda, Project Manager of the programme.
 
As part of the programme, learners have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship at the sponsor, namely SANRAL (South African National Roads Agency). The scholarship not only covers all school and hostel fees for the particular year, but also includes stationary as well as school and sports outfits of the learner.
 
At a recent information session for successful learners and their parents held at the UFS, Ms Pearl Nhlane of SANRAL congratulated the learners and said that “SANRAL is recognising the hard work of the learners by investing in them”. Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, in turn thanked SANRAL for their initiative and told the learners “that one has to take the gap when one gets the opportunity”, indicating to the learners that the scholarship can be seen as such an opportunity, since it can possibly pave the way to study benefits in future.  

 

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