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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

Stochastic Modelling for Reliability from Russia
2013-12-20

 

 Prof Maxim (MS) Finkelstein’s
The Russian professor first visited our university in 1993 and loved the environment. For the last 15 years we were fortunate to have had a man of Prof Maxim (MS) Finkelstein’s (65) stature as part of our Department of Mathematical Statistics.

“I like the atmosphere, the environment and the people of the UFS,” says Prof Finkelstein. “The UFS is a real campus, not part of the city as a lot of other universities in South Africa.”

Prof Finkelstein completed his MSc in Mathematical Physics from the Leningrad State University in the USSR in 1971. Maths and Physics have been a passion of his since a young age. In 1979, Prof Finkelstein completed his PhD in Mathematical Theory of Reliability at Leningrad Elektropribor Institute. Before his career at our university, Prof Finkelstein was a Senior Researcher at St. Petersburg Elektropribor Institute and an Associate Professor at Leningrad Technological Institute.

His long list of publications includes over 170 papers and five books. His monograph Failure Rate Modelling for Reliability and Risk was published by Springer in 2008. More recently another monograph – which was co-authored with JH Cha – was published by Springer in April 2013 and is called Stochastic Modelling for Reliability: Shocks, Burn-in, and Heterogeneous Populations.

Prof Finkelstein’s research interests include mathematical theory of reliability, survival analysis, risk and safety modelling, stochastic processes and stochastics in demography. When asked about leisure and life outside of research, the devoted academic’s response was as follows…

“To have publications, you have to work all the time. I work half of Saturdays and most of Sundays,” Prof Finkelstein says. “I spend three months a year in Russia and Germany – mostly during the European summer – for my research.”
“But apart from that, I like reading – classical Russian authors mostly. I swim in the UFS’s swimming pool almost every day and I play tennis as well.”

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