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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

Meet Dr Aliza le Roux, Prestige Scholar
2013-07-10

 

Dr Aliza le Roux
Ground-breaking research on gelada ape made waves.

Photo: Sonia Small
10 July 2013


Dr Aliza le Roux is an NRF Y2-rated senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Entomology on the Qwaqwa Campus. She joined the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) in 2013.

Dr le Roux has devoted the past decade to research on the cognitive and communicative skills of wild mammals in the arid regions of South Africa and the highlands of Ethiopia.

She spent four years as postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, leading to ground-breaking work on the cognitive and communicative underpinnings of gelada monkey behaviour. This was published in Nature Communications and created waves in the international scholarly community.

Most recently, Dr le Roux has focused on the paternal care of an eccentric canid– the bat-eared fox. She is convinced that we have much to learn about ourselves from animals outside the primate order. This unusual little fox eats mainly termites, and males – rather than females – take care of the offspring. The reason why, is still a mystery Dr le Roux hopes to unravel. Little is known about the physiological stress that foxes face, or how paternal care affects the father, the mother, and the pups. Even in humans, the true impact of paternal care is poorly understood.

With this ground-breaking project, Dr le Roux hopes not only to describe the ecology and physiology of fatherhood, but also how a father’s care can affect the cognitive development of his offspring.

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