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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

A magnificent Winter Graduation Ceremony
2013-06-27

 

28 June 2013
Photo: Johan Roux

   Winter Graduation video (YouTube)

The way to immortalise a person, is to live by his example. PhD and master's graduates were imbued by the following message from Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), during the UFS Winter Graduation Ceremony: to follow Nelson Mandela's majestic example is to guarantee that his life was not in vain.

Dr Mokhele honoured the graduates for their achievements "that clearly did not come easy", referring to the sacrifices on their part and the role of their support structures.

He also praised members of the UFS' leadership team who contributed academically to the excellent standards. Prof Teuns Verschoor, former Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, and Prof Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic, were especially mentioned for their role as respectively co-promoter and promoter of two PhD graduates.

A total of 63 doctorates and 414 master's degrees were awarded to graduates from South Africa, Nigeria, Lesotho, Uganda and Zimbabwe on Thursday 27 June 2013.

On the previous day, the School of Open Learning kicked off the graduation event by conferring 320 qualifications.

The graduates, most of them full-time educators, received qualifications ranging from certificates to diplomas.

"I hope that you will plough back what you have learned and that this qualification will make you a better educator, an inspired one, one that will relentlessly put your efforts into increasing a better future for our children," Prof Hay said, highlighting challenges in South Africa's education system.

"Become enthused, obsessed and passionate to change the education system. Be the change agent in your schools to contribute in giving the quality education our children so desperately need," she said.

An exceptional moment at this year's graduation ceremony was when the two daughters of an academic, Prof Dave Lubbe of the Centre for Accounting, obtained their master's degrees. "It is indeed a highlight in my career that my daughters received their master's degrees cum laude at the same graduation ceremony, under my supervision!"

Prof Lubbe's two daughters, Nandi Lubbe and Leandi Steenkamp, both received their MCom with distinctions in Accounting. They completed their degrees under the supervision of Prof Lubbe and Nandi also won the Dean's medal as the best M student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

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