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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

US professor makes the case for public scholarship
2011-08-17

 

The Eatman family from the left: Jasmin Eatman, Prof. Timothy Eatman and Mrs. Lorraine Eatman

The university of the 21st century should not be an ivory tower; rather it should work with communities to co-create things of public value. This was one of the observations made by visiting US Prof. Timothy Eatman. He delivered a public lecture on the topic Public Scholarship and the democratisation of knowledge in the engaged university at the University of the Free State (UFS) on Monday, 15 August 2011. Prof. Eatman challenged people at the lecture to think about richer ways of thinking about engaged public scholarship and said they need to prepare for a new citizenry of academia.

Prof. Eatman, an assistant professor of Higher Education at Syracuse University in the United States, said that knowledge was revealed in diverse ways and advised institutions of higher education to demonstrate an increasing sensitivity to issues of relevance to public good. Prof. Eatman said the present era calls for the development of a more sophisticated understanding of knowledge creation.

Prof. Eatman, who is visiting our country for the first time, brought along his mother, Lorraine, and daughter, Jasmin, who performed a contemporary dance during the event. The family had been in Bloemfontein for the past week or so and Eatman expressed his gratitude to staff and people of Bloemfontein, saying he can deliver personal testimony to the beauty of the Free State.
 

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