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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

Postgraduate School and Faculty of Law receive Rector during discussion with emerging researchers
2012-09-11

A session of the special programme for upcoming researchers was attended by, from the left: Denine Smit, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Prof. Voet du Plessis of the Department of Mercantile Law and Marda Horn; back: Glancina Mokone, Albert Nell, Pieter Brits, Prof. Neil Roos, Director of the UFS’s Postgraduate School and Jamie Faber.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs
11 September 2012

 Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the university, recently addressed six Ph.D. students and their supervisors in the Faculty of Law as part of a special programme of the Postgraduate School for emerging researchers. Prof. Jansen contextualised his lecture on the impact and significance of research, “How do you determine that the important and bigger questions in your research are addressed to ensure the impact thereof?” in his discussion with the researchers. Based on the model of international postgraduate seminars, the researchers set out their field of study to Prof. Jansen and the audience. Suggestions were then made on how to increase the intellectual impact and theoretical depth of academic argumentation.

According to Prof. Neil Roos, Director of the Postgraduate School, together with Prof. Jackie du Toit and Prof. Corli Witthuhn, Academic Coordinators for the Vice Chancellor’s Prestige Scholar Programme, the aim of the programme is to provide support to emerging researchers on postgraduate level similar to the Prestige Scholar Programme.

“The initiative is being rolled out in a faculty-specific way. In consultation with the deans, the specific needs in the faculty are determined, which in turn determines the approach,” says Prof. Roos.

The six students are all involved at the university in various capacities, and are studying towards a Ph.D. in Law. They are outstanding candidates who are being funded by the Postgraduate School in order to empower postgraduate students to greater reach, internationalisation and the establishment of long-term academic networks. The programme is coordinated in the Faculty of Law by Prof. Loot Pretorius.

Two upcoming researchers in the Faculty of Theology and one in Nursing joined the group for Prof. Jansen’s lecture on significant research.

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