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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

Strengthening ties with Belgium ally
2013-10-31

 

From the left are: Prof Dr Johan Meeusen signing the agreement with Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations.
Photo: Hannes Pieterse
31 October 2013

The UFS signed a formal agreement with the University of Antwerp, strengthening the two institutions’ existing collaboration. Prof Dr Johan Meeusen, Vice-Rector and Professor of European Law and Private International Law at the University of Antwerp, visited the Bloemfontein Campus to sign the agreement. This arrangement will ensure that the two institutions work in close conjunction on research and additional projects.

Dineo Gaofhiwe-Ingram, Assistant Director: Internationalisation, says the new relationship between the two universities will have a strong research focus. "It’s evident and known that we want to become a research-intensive university.” She emphasises that the relationship with Antwerp as well as partnerships with a variety of other institutions are crucial. These will ensure that young emerging scholars, like those taking part in the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Scholars Programme, are exposed internationally during their development. “We hope that some of the scholars in the new cohort of the PSP will be able to find scientists to host them at Antwerp," Gaofhiwe-Ingram adds.

In addition, she explains that this formal agreement will augment pre-existing collaborations with the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, as well as the Centre for Health Systems Research and Development. It will also open up cooperation between other faculties and disciplines. “Through Eurosa/Erasmus Mundus Project, which awards scholarships to South African students and staff to study in Europe, the 2014 project will now also award scholarships to European students and staff to come and study in South Africa,” Gaofhiwe-Ingram announced.

The University of Antwerp is one of the European associates that participates in the Leadership for Change Programme and hosted a group of first-year Kovsie students during 2011. In 2012, representatives from the University of Antwerp attended the Leadership Summit presented on the Bloemfontein Campus. Another group of first-year students from the UFS took part in this year’s programme.

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