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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 academic appointed as team doctor for SA Olympic Team
2012-03-22

 

Dr Holtzhausen’s appointment reflects well on the quality of exercise and sports medicine presented at the university.
20 March 2012

Dr Louis Holtzhausen, Head of the university’s Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, has been selected by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) as team doctor for the more than 300 athletes that will represent South Africa at this year’s Olympic Games in London.

“This is definitely one of the most important highlights of my career, in which I’ve worked with professional athletes and top sporting people,” says Dr Holtzhausen, a recognised South African academic in Sports Medicine.

“It is not only an honour to be appointed as team doctor for the South African Olympic Team. It is also a privilege to represent the UFS. The fact that Sascoc approached me reflects well on the quality of exercise and sports medicine that we present here at the university,” says Dr Holtzhausen.

Dr Holtzhausen says he has already worked with some of the athletes in the Olympic Team. These include members of the South African boxing team, the hockey team, as well as track and field athletes that have been preparing for the Olympic Games at the university’s High Performance Unit.

There is, however, hard work ahead for Dr Holtzhausen. His work will start before the team leaves for London in July. “I have to ensure that all the athletes are healthy and that everyone’s immunisation programmes are up to date. We also have to ensure that no athlete takes banned substances,” he says.

During the Games, Dr Holtzhausen will keep an eye on the optimal functioning of every athlete. “Anything that could hamper them medically will be sorted – whether it’s a broken ankle or a cold,” he says.

He will also see to it that medical services are available during the competition. Immediate medical assistance will be available, especially at high contact sports like boxing.

Dr Holtzhausen has also been team doctor for Team South Africa at the All Africa Games, the biggest sporting event in Africa. He was recently appointed as a member of the International Committee and Coordinator for Africa of the worldwide Exercise is Medicine project. This project proposes that exercise be used in the prevention of chronic disease in the general population, as well as in the treatment of people with existing chronic diseases. Dr Holtzhausen is also an honorary member of the South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA). This membership is awarded to members of the medical and scientific community who make significant contributions to the advancement of sports medicine.

Dr Holtzhausen is a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme.
The goal with the Prestige Scholars Programme is to select no more than 100 of the most promising young scholars (typically holding lecturer status) and to make substantial investments in their development towards the professoriate. A tailored, intensive programme of support has been designed which combines international placement working alongside leading scholars in the discipline of the prestige scholar, with intensive mentorship and support from within the university.

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