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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

Former architecture student takes part in Archiprix in Moscow
2013-06-24

Jurie Swart in Moscow.
24 June 2013

 

“I am proud that I could honour the UFS’ name,” says Jurie Swart. He participated in the prestigious Archiprix in Moscow in May 2013.

Archiprix is an international competition where the world’s top architecture students are selected. Architecture departments, schools and faculties of 1 500 universities from 78 countries worldwide are invited to enter their top master’s students over two study years.

In 2012, Jurie Swart was honoured as regional winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award and also received an honourable mention in the 2012 International Graduate Architecture Projects.

After several months of careful evaluation by a panel of five experts, his thesis, Borderline – mediated landscape, A water research centre for the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa Campus, was nominated as one of the world’s 25 master’s projects to take part in the Archiprix in Moscow. His thesis was also on display at the Central House of Artists in Moscow for a couple of months.

The judges were Yuri Grigoryan (architect and director of the Moscow-based Project Meganom, as well as director of educational programmes at the Strelka Institute in Moscow); Susan Herrington (professor of architecture and landscape architecture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada); Kristin Jarmund (architect and director of the Norwegian-based Kjark, an architectural house); Hubert Klumpner (architect, director of the Venezuela-based Urban-Think Tank, and professor of architecture and urban design at the ETH, Zürich ); and Lesley Lokko (architect, academic and author from the UK).

Jurie Swart was selected as the participants’ favourite. “From the top 25, seven winners were announced, and although I didn’t win, it is still an amazing achievement and I am proud to have honoured the university’s name,” he said.

During his visit to Moscow, he also attended a workshop with the rest of the nominated students. This project, with the theme Railroads, was an exercise to help solve Russia’s transport problems.

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