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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 Prestige Scholar shares her vision on crystallography with worldwide audience
2014-04-24

 
Dr Alice Brink
Dr Alice Brink, a Prestige Scholar and lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State, was selected by UNESCO to participate, together with some 15 other young scientists from all over the world, in a round-table discussion at the Opening Ceremony of the International Year of Crystallography.

During this event, that took place in Paris, France, Dr Brink could, on stage, share her vision as one of the next generation of scientists.

“The 15 crystallographers consisted of eight young, established scientists and seven ‘young-young’ scientists who are starting their careers. We participated in a group discussion in order for the crystallographic community to better understand the challenges faced by young scientists across the globe.

“It was a great privilege to be invited to be part of this talented and diverse discussion group and to hear the challenges that are faced by young scientists from different parts of the world. It is also comforting to hear that scientific difficulties that are found in South Africa are commonly experienced in both First and Third World countries,” said Dr Brink.

“Crystallography has directly influenced the development of numerous scientific fields such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, medicine, engineering and material sciences. More inter-departmental collaboration would benefit greatly from crystallography, as this multi-faceted science provides foundation principles for applied research,” she said.

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography, and it was officially opened at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris by the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon.

The ceremony was video-streamed live to more than 500 destinations all over the world.

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