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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

Number of NRF-rated researchers increases in 2012
2012-10-29

29 October 2012

Three researchers at the University of the Free State received B-ratings for 2013 from the National Research Foundation (NRF). Prof. Johan Henning, Dean of Law, obtained the highest rating in his field of mercantile law in South Africa, a B1.

Prof. Jackie Naudé from Classical and Near Eastern Studies and Prof. Dingie Janse van Rensburg, Professor Extraordinary at the Centre for Health Systems Research and Development, also obtained B3-ratings. Prof. Naudé is the first B-rated researcher in the Faculty of Humanities.
Prof. Helene Strauss obtained the highest rating (Y1) for a UFS young scholar in the Humanities.
In total, the NRF rated researchers at the UFS grew from 95 in 2011 to 109 in 2012, a growth of almost 15 percent.
The NRF ratings committee consist of three reviewers from South Africa and three from abroad. A rating is valid for six years and researchers must reapply for rating before the end of that period.
For a B1-rating all reviewers must be firmly convinced that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality of the researcher’s recent output, with some indicating that the researcher is a leading international scholar in a field. For a B3-rating most of the reviewers must be convinced that the researcher enjoys international recognition for the high quality and impact of the research.
Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said in the UFS Research Report “The UFS now has among the highest number of NRF-rated scientists per size of the academic faculty and we have seen the productivity graph bear witness to a record growth in our funded research outputs; we have won our first-ever NRF/DST Research Chairs. In each of these achievements, the excellence we seek comes with and through the diversity we celebrate.”
More ratings and renewals were expected by the time of Bult went to print.. More than 35 researchers applied for ratings or renewal of ratings.
  • Colleagues who were admitted to the prestigious Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) are Profs. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Driekie Hay, Heidi Hudson, Lodewyk Kock, Odireleng Ntwaeaborwa, Hugh Patterton, Ian Phimister and Melanie Walker. ASSAf was established in 1996 with the mission of using science for the benefit of society. New members are elected after nomination by four existing members (at least two of whom do so from personal knowledge of the candidate). ASSAf has some 350 members and represents South Africa in the international community of science academies.
  • Dr Marieka Gryzenhout of Plant Sciences became a member of South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). SAYAS celebrated its first year in 2012. It was launched as a means to enable South Africa’s young scientists to fully participate in locally and internationally relevant research and development agendas. Prof. Aldo Stroebel, Director: Internationalisation, is also a member of SAYAS.

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