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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

University tips its hat to final-year students
2013-09-13

 
From the left: Lauren Marais, Werner Landman, Herloise Jordaan and Louis Rossouw (PwC).
13 September 2013

The Alumni Office at the University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), held its first Alumni Evening for final-year students.

The students received valuable advice from various speakers during the event. Werner Landman – also a UFS graduate – highlighted the differences in approach between the current and previous generations. Landman explained that Generation Y students have greater influence and are extensively connected socially as they enter the work environment. “You are people who will work to live, unlike us, Generation X, who live to work,” he said. With their degrees – some already busy with their post-graduate studies – they are more likely to be appointed in professions which will allow them to live better, he added.

Heloise Jordaan, former 2008/9 SRC president, who holds three degrees from Kovsies to her name, also addressed the final-years. She currently holds the position of brand manager at Urban Hotels, although she only started working recently. Through sharing her personal work experiences, she gave the audience a glimpse into the workplace."You guys need to realise that when you step into the working sphere, you need to be open minded and also work to the best of your abilities,” Jordaan encouraged.

The evening was concluded on a high note with a prize-giving. Pieter du Toit, UFS Alumni Chair, was in charge of handing over the awards. Residences were compared to find which ones generated the most residing final-year and postgraduate students. House Tswelopele and Soetdoring clinched the honours and walked away with R2 000 each for their house.

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