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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

Interior dome of Naval Hill planetarium reaches completion
2013-09-04

 

Work on the inside of the dome
Photo: Reinier Brönn
01 September 2013

The interior perforated aluminium planetarium dome has been installed by an American expert from Astro-Tec, the American company that customised the dome for the planetarium on Naval Hill. The planetarium, the first digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa, is scheduled to open in November 2013. The UFS manages the project.

The dome arrived in parts by ship from the USA in June 2013. These parts consisted of a number of long curved ‘ribs’ and numerous perforated panels. The panels were attached in sections to the ribs to form a smooth concave shell, creating the surface for the projection system.

The next step will be the installation of the projection system itself.

The 86-year old Lamont-Hussey Observatory on Naval Hill, also known as the Sterrewag Theatre, is home to the planetarium. The planetarium is the first component of a proposed Centre for Earth and Space. This will be a multi-purpose facility to promote science communication and preservation, and the arts.

This project is a long-term partnership between three main organisations, each bringing essential components to the project: the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) as the land-owner, the Free State Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DETEA) and the UFS, which developed the concept for the planetarium project and will be responsible for its operation and further fundraising endeavours.

The National Department of Science and Technology also joined this venture subsequent to providing substantial funding to the UFS in order to purchase the projection system for the planetarium.

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