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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

Professor lectures class – from his closet!
2013-03-05

 

Prof Vernon Louw recording his lessons in his ‘studio’
Photo: Supplied
05 March 2013

A professor, and lecturer, at the University of the Free State (UFS) nowadays gives ‘class’ in his sleep and from within his walk-in closet.

Prof Vernon Louw from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Faculty of Health Sciences recently began to make video recordings in which he presents his lessons in his discipline of Internal Medicine and Haematology.

In the mean time, due to the lack of a studio, he does his recordings in his walk-in closet where it is soundproof.

“I started the videos as a personal initiative, since there is great potential to create a completely integrated platform from where the students can watch the videos in their own time. It also provides us with more time to work interactively with our students in the class, since they already watched the videos on their own or can perhaps watch it later.”

The videos, which are viewable on Youtube under the name ‘Vernon Louw – MedEd’, are very specific and concepts are explained step by step with the objective of mastering them in ten-minute videos. There are already five videos uploaded and students from over the world can view them.

“The benefit is that now I can ‘lecture’ while I sleep. It is wonderful to notice in the mornings that another 20 viewers somewhere in the world joined.”

Prof Louw says that most of the videos are currently watched by mainly South-African, American, Indian and British viewers.

The videos can be watched on the Youtube channel: Vernon Louw MedEd

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