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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

Registrar takes leadership role at Golden Key International
2012-03-08

 

Dr Derek Swemmer
8 March 2012

The world’s premier academic honour society, the Golden Key International Honour Society, has recognised academic excellence at our university by appointing Dr Derek Swemmer, Registrar of the UFS, as chairperson of its international board of directors.

Dr Swemmer is the first South African to serve as Chairperson of the governing body of the society. He will take up office in July 2012. Dr Swemmer, who has served as a board member for two terms, was appointed at a recent board meeting of the society in Georgia, Atlanta in the United States.
 
Dr Swemmer's role as Chairperson of the board is to ensure that the society’s values of academic excellence, leadership and service are followed in the more than 375 chapters worldwide. He will serve a three-year term on the board, which oversees the awarding of scholarships worth $1 million to its members annually.
 
Dr Swemmer says he is honoured to serve the UFS and South Africa in this capacity. “The appointment is humbling when you know you have hundreds of volunteers that could have been asked to serve.”
 
Dr Swemmer, who is co-advisor of the UFS Golden Key chapter, says he hopes to help the society to expand its service activities in order to provide an excellent example to the world of how highly skilled academic students render meaningful service to their communities, both at university and to the broader community.
 
He says the Golden Key International Honour Society is a very important part of the UFS’s Academic and Human project.

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