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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

Sought-after title warms heart doctor’s heart
2013-10-02

02 October 2013

Prof Stephen Brown was recently named as Ons Stad’s Bloemfonteiner of the Year, a title Prof Brown views as “one of the greatest moments” of his life.

Prof Brown, a cardiologist in the University of the Free State’s (UFS’) Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, has dedicated his life to children’s hearts ever since he qualified as paediatrician.

He is also involved in the teaching of under- and postgraduate students, as well as the training of doctors in paediatric cardiology. He is also jointly responsible for the planning and compilation of the undergraduate training programme for final-year students.

“This title is truly one of the greatest moments of my life. I feel humbled and impressed by the quality of the nominations for the title, which makes me feel small among the others.

“As physician I appreciate it even more, because this award means that the people of our wonderful city value the achievements and work of the doctors in our city – this warms my heart.”

Under Prof Brown’s leadership, Bloemfontein’s Paediatric Cardiology Unit is the only certified and recognised unit for pulmonary-valve implants in Africa.

The development of a local prenatal fetal heart screening and diagnostic programme, as well as adult congenital heart clinics, is due to his work and passion for his study field.

At the World Congress in 2013, he was involved as operator from South Africa in the first ‘direct telecast’ of children’s heart procedures.

“I hope that the award will help in our campaign to raise awareness in the community about children’s heart diseases.  They are, after all, the people I work for."

The UFS also congratulates Sheri Brynard on her nomination for the title. Paul Colditz, the winner for 2012, is also a UFS Board member.

 

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