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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

Applications for the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Programme for 2013/2014 now open
2012-12-06

This highly prestigious programme, led by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, seeks to identify, develop and promote the next cohort of the most promising and talented UFS academic members of staff who obtained a doctoral degree within the last five years. These are young scholars who have chosen academic careers and who are focused and determined to become senior academics in their respective disciplines.

Once identified, these scholars will be put through an intensive programme of academic and scholarship support that includes an advanced residential programme, exposure to leading scholars, intensive reading and writing programmes, high-level seminar participation and presentation, nuanced publication schedules and personal mentoring and advice.

The selection process is highly competitive, and aimed at those young scholars with the potential to obtain upper-level ratings (Y1 and P).  The selection criteria include the following:(1)

1. Recently obtained a PhD degree.
2. Evidence of an active publication record.
3. Early recognition of scholarly work, e.g. successful funding/grant applications and academic awards.
4. The early development of a post-doctoral intellectual project that shows evidence of scholarly “potential” (defined by the NRF Y-category).
5. Indication of the young scholar’s understanding of what their envisaged postdoctoral endeavours will contribute to the body of knowledge.
 
This period of support will run over a cycle of two years after which a new intake of next generation professors will be selected.
 
While this cohort will be selected for an intensive programme, ongoing development and support of all young scholars will continue. The selected scholars will reflect a balance of young academics from the humanities (broadly defined, including education, law, theology and the social sciences) and the natural sciences (broadly defined, including the agricultural and health sciences).
 
Call for Applications
This is a call for applications for the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Programme for 2013/2014. Candidates are invited to submit applications. No nomination is required, but deans and heads of department will also be asked to invite young scholars to apply.  Complete applications are due by Monday 21 January 2013. A full application will include the following documentation:

1. A complete curriculum vitae of the candidate.
2. A complete exercise of intent comprising the following:
2.1   Select two journal articles (copies of which to accompany the application) in the area you have identified for your intellectual focus post PhD. These articles have to be selected from journals of international standing in your field.
2.2   The articles need to be summarised (250 words each), and
2.3   Two questions have to be identified that you would want to pursue in relation to your intended project. 
2.4   This is followed by a brief, critical summary of a hundred lines maximum to indicate how these articles inform, integrate or provoke your planned future research.

Submission and contact address
A paper copy of the application must be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor’s secretary, Ms Melissa Coetzee, in the Main Building by 16:00 on Monday 21 January 2013 and an electronic copy of your entire application to the administrative assistant, Mr Albert Nell:nella@ufs.ac.za. You will be contacted to acknowledge receipt. Candidates will be informed of the outcome in February. Further information on the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholar Programme can be directed at any of the following co-directors (in alphabetical order):

Prof Jackie du Toit, Prof Neil Roos, Prof Aldo Stroebel or Prof Corli Witthuhn.
 
[1] The VC reserves the right to nominate young scholars to the programme and also to invite scholars to a panel interview to evaluate personal qualities, professional commitment and academic ambition.

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