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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

Prof. Willem Boshoff joins Department of Fine Arts
2012-10-05

Prof. Willem Boshoff

Prof. Willem Boshoff, one of South Africa’s most established artists, has joined the Department of Fine Arts as a mentor for postgraduate students. Prof. Boshoff, whose work has been shown extensively in South Africa and internationally, will serve as mentor and resident artist in the department.

Prof. Boshoff made his mark at the university in 2011 when his Thinking Stone sculpture, one of sixteen artworks commissioned by the Sculpture-on-Campus project, was installed near the Main Building. The "Black Belfast " granite stone, situated next to the H vd Merwe Scholtz Hall, weighs approximately 20 ton and, to date,is the largest of the artworks funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust fund.

Mr Ben Botma, Head of the Department of Fine Arts, says Prof. Boshoff, who is based in Gauteng, will work on the Bloemfontein Campus for certain months of the year. “As an artist he is extremely productive and has an impressive international exhibition programme. As a result he has a good overview of what happens in the most important museums and contemporary galleries. This information and insight can be shared with students with great success.”

Mr Botma says although the mentorship is aimed at postgraduate students, Prof. Boshoff’s presence and obsessive work habits will also motivate and inspire undergraduate students. “Willem is very popular as external examiner and moderator at other universities and he has a good perspective of what happens at the major universities”.
 

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