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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

Student from Atlanta, USA joins TIA/UFS Metagenomics Platform group
2012-09-11

Kanesha Gillyard from the USA .
11 September 2012

 The university and the Spelman College in Atlanta, USA had a joint research venture that ran from June to August 2012. We had the honour of hosting one of the students from Spelman in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Kanesha Gillyard joined the group from the TIA/UFS Metagenomics Platform in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.

This was the first time that Kanesha had left Atlanta. This is what she had to say about her trip to Africa:

“I was met with a bright smile and open arms on my first day. The university staff and overall student body have embraced me. Furthermore, the Biotechnology Department has made me feel like I am family. Every day I was given the opportunity to work with a group of people dedicated to their goals, persistent regarding their purpose and fluent in speaking the many dialects of this universal language.

My first week here at the university was like walking into a whole new world.

I have learned many valuable lessons after experiencing life in South Africa for the past two and half months. From adjusting to a new environment and broadening my horizons to becoming trilingual in English, Afrikaans and the new universal language of virtue, I have grown tremendously. Being a “Kovsie” for two months and obtaining an invaluable wealth of knowledge has left me with the confidence of a winner, passion of a dreamer and heart of a nurturer. In essence, this experience has taught me the scientific method to repeat in order to reach for infinity and beyond.”
 

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