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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

UFS outlines research achievements
2011-09-02

 

At the launch of the 2010 Annual Research Report, were from the left: Mr Robert Kriger, the director for Policy and Strategy at the National Research Foundation (NRF); Prof. Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic and Prof. Frans Swanepoel, Senior Director: Research Development.
Photo: Stephen Collett

The University of the Free State (UFS) is well on course for delivery on its most important academic duty as a research university. This was the message that came forward at the launch of the 2010 Annual Research Report of the UFS on 30 August 2011.

Speakers at the launch, which included Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, as well as Prof. Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academics outlined the key strategies and achievements of the UFS for the 2010 academic year. This included the establishment of a Postgraduate School at the UFS, the first of its kind at a public university in South Africa. Prof. Hay told guests that the aim of the Postgraduate School was to broaden research and deepens scholarship on postgraduate education in the country. She highlighted some initiatives the UFS undertook in 2010 to build and maintain its intellectual capital. Some of these initiatives included the appointment of seven senior professors and recruiting more female and black scholars and academics.   
Also speaking at the event was Mr Robert Kriger, the director for Policy and Strategy at the National Research Foundation (NRF). Kriger reflected on the brilliant minds of scholars such as Archie Mafeje, Lewis Nkosi and Dennis Brutus and argued for efforts to increase the country’s research output.
Some highlights of the 2010 Annual Research Report:
  • The total funding available for research at the UFS increased from approximately R199 million in 2009 to just over R210 million in 2010. A total of R31.8 million was made available from central university funds.
  • In 2010 the UFS was home to 92 NRF-rated researchers. During 2010, four researchers applied for re-evaluation and of these, two improved their rating, while a further five received a first-time rating.
  • The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences continue to be the most prolific producer of publications in accredited journals, while the Faculty of Education has shown a 54% increase in its publication output.
  • Staff members in the Physics department at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus published 22 papers in international peer-reviewed journals during 2010.
  • Also at the Qwaqwa Campus: Ms Khethiwe Mtshali,a postgraduate student in the parasitology research unit of the Department of Zoology and Entomology, received a best Honours presenter award at the 1st Annual Research symposium of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.

 

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