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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

UFS gets support for improving university access and success in South Africa
2013-10-24

 

Members of the SASSE Research team are from left: Carike Jordaan, Dr Francois Strydom, Lana Swart, Seisho Gaboutlwelweboutlwelwakemo, Michael Henn en Katleho Nyaile.
Photo: Supplied
24 October 2013

The university’s Centre of Teaching and Learning (CTL) received a grant for US$820 000 (about R8 million) from the Kresge Foundation for their South African Survey of Student Engagement (SASSE) research team.

The SASSE research team is committed to furthering student access with success by promoting quality teaching and learning institutionally and promoting collective impact around student success nationally.

Through this three-year project, the SASSE team aims to provide a range of deeply contextualised and globally benchmarked student engagement measures that can be used at institutional and module/course level for the South African context. The data from these measures can be used to improve the quality of undergraduate teaching and learning, and participating institutions will have access to appropriate capacity development interventions to empower them to use the data to promote evidence-based change in their institutions.

Dr Francois Strydom, Academic Director at the CTL, says the lessons from this higher-education project could be used to develop a stronger post-school sector which could help the country to deal with the massive challenge of youth unemployment; thereby promoting equity, social justice and a prosperous democracy in South Africa.

The Kresge Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation in the United States, which is focused on creating opportunity for low-income people through various programmes. This three-year project forms part of the Kresge Foundation’s Education Programme, which focuses on promoting access and success at South African universities. Therefore the SASSE project aims to contribute to the Kresge-sponsored Access and Success in Higher Education in South Africa (ASHESA), to promote a national conversation on improving student success.

In January this year, the university was one of four South African universities selected to take part in a multi-million rand programme to bolster private fund-raising and advancement efforts. For this programme the UFS was granted US$640 000 (about R5,6 million) over a period of five years.

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