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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

Manuel Castillo Book Prize goes to Prof Melanie Walker
2014-05-15



Prof Melanie Walker

Prof Melanie Walker from our Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED) and Alejandra Boni from the Technical University of Valencia in Spain makes for a potent writing combination. Their book, Human Development and Capabilities: Re-imagining the University of the twenty-first Century, has won the 2014 Spanish Manuel Castillo Book Prize. This in the category of a Published University Research Monograph.

The aim of this prize is to stimulate academic, scientific and journalist research in the fields of cooperation, peace and human development. And this is precisely what underpins their book.

The content encourages the reader to re-imagine the role of the university and its potential for transformative ends. It urges the creation of better societies while acknowledging contemporary social and economic challenges. It shows how universities might advance human equalities and how these institutions can contribute to sustainable and democratic societies.

In her acceptance speech, Professor Walker noted that “the book is pioneering in its linking universities to human development in an age where globally human capital and economic growth approaches dominate higher education policy.” She noted that the human capital argument is by no means settled – an increased focus on economic growth only contributes to growing inequalities. “We hope the book will challenge and add to debating the purposes of universities,” Prof Walker said.

Not only was this trans-continental collaboration an intellectual and personal joy for Prof Walker, but it has served as a springboard to further research and more writing together with Alejandra Boni.


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