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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

Art2 + x [science] = 2 continents fused
2014-04-02


Left: Diamandini by Dr Mari Velonaki. Right: 'Muslim Hairdrying' by Cigdem Aydemir.

Mzanzi resistance art is set to fuse with Australian interdisciplinary art in an experimental ‘boiling pot’ – right here on our Bloemfontein Campus.


Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD)

Kovsies and the Vryfees forged a highly-innovative link between South African and Australian artists by establishing the Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD). Together we are embarking on a three-year collaboration to see what happens when experimental and community arts are fused.

The project includes intercultural laboratories, art and science exchange programmes, public forums as well developing and presenting experimental art.


Art(ist)s meet science(tists)

For the first time, two Australian artists will visit our Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences in an exchange programme. The one is Dr Mari Velonaki, director of the Creative Robotics Lab at the University of New South Wales. The other is Dr Nigel Helyer, an honorary research fellow at the SymbioticA biotechnology lab at the University of Western Australia.

Dr Velonaki will explore new links between humans and computers that are community orientated. She will work closely with Prof PJ Blignaut and the Department of Computer Science and Informatics. In turn, Dr Helyer will investigate genetic coding and intercultural musical compositions. He will collaborate with Prof J Albertyn at the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.

Vryfees 2014 and 2015 will also see contemporary and highly-experimental works from renowned Australian artists Cigdem Aydemir and Jess Olivieri. In addition, the festival will present OPENLab – a new national laboratory for early and midcareer artists and creative practitioners interested in making art in the public realm.

The programme is the result of a close partnership between the Vryfees and Situate Art in Festivals, managed by Salamanca Arts Centre in Australia (www.situate.org.au).

It also enjoys the support of:

  • Australia Council for the Arts;
  • NSW Artists Grant Scheme administrated by the National Association of the Visual Arts LTD;
  • Situate Art in Festivals;
  • National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and
  • Modern Art Project SA.

For more information on Piad visit www.vryfees.co.za or https://www.facebook.com/pages/PikoPiad/1435158293383474.

 

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