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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

UFS praised for hosting international research development programme
2013-03-05

 

At the farewell function were, from the left: Dr GansenPillay (deputy executive officer of the NRF), Emile Goofo (Cameroon), his son Tylio in the arms of Prof Nicky Morgan (Vice-Rector: Operations), Avelino Mondhane from Stockholm University (originally from Mozambique) and Prof Neil Heideman (Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences).
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar
05 March 2013

“I must congratulate the University of the Free State on doing something like this,” Dr Gansen Pillay said at the farewell function for the participants in the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) at the UFS.

The 19 young scientists from 16 countries completed their three-month programme at the end of February 2013. As another step in the process the participants must write articles for reputable journals and complete their doctoral studies. Their performance in the research world will also be tracked.

Dr Pillay, deputy executive officer of the National Research Foundation (NRF), said an investment was made in the researchers to secure the future of the programme. A lot of persuasion and proof was necessary to convince the Austrian Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) that a programme of this nature could be presented in Africa.

The SA-YSSP was hosted and managed by the UFS. The programme was developed by the NRF in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and IIASA into a novel and innovative initiative.  The official launch was by the Minister of Science and Technology during November 2011.

The SA-YSSP will be an annual three-month education, academic training and research capacity-building programme. Aligned with the YSSP model, annually presented in Austria, the SA-YSSP offered scientific seminars covering themes in the social and natural sciences, often with policy dimensions, to broaden the participants’ perspectives and strengthen their analytical and modelling skills, further enriching a demanding academic and research programme.

Prof Martin Mtwaeaborwa, SA-YSSP deputy dean, said the academic performance of the young scientists superseded the expectations. “I hope the scholars will look back at the programme as the moment their careers began.”

The added, “The UFS received positive remarks for organising the programme and we hope to get it again in future.”

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