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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

How are children taught about sexuality?
2014-01-05

 

Prof Dennis Francis
How is sexuality taught at schools? More importantly, why is heteronormativity taught at schools?

These are the questions that drive Prof Dennis Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Eduation, in his research on sexuality education.

His extensive research papers point out how schools promote compulsory heterosexuality and that homosexuality is something to be hidden and kept separate from teaching, learning and daily school life.

Prof Francis’ research dates back to the early 2000s, when he became concerned about the high HIV prevalence and other sexually transmitted diseases among 15-25-year-olds and the dropping age of sexual debut, as well as the increase of sexually active teenagers that are not adequately protecting themselves against undesired pregnancies and disease.

It was in the light of this that he started looking at how messages of sex and sexuality were conveyed to adolescents before becoming sexually active.

From 2006 to 2008, he was awarded a Medical Research Council Grant under the MRC research priority area of HIV/Aids.

In the past three years, he has collaborated with Dr Renee de Palma, a leading international European scholar who has published widely on sexuality education, gender and heteronormativity.

Using a National Research Foundation (NRF) grant, they collected data from 25 sexuality educators across the Free State on the teaching of sexuality education. They have published three articles in peer-reviewed journals, one is in press, one book chapter was published and two are currently under review.

Prof Francis says he is also pursuing a research project in the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender education in the sexuality education curriculum.

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