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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

Because you can do the undoable
2014-05-30


Gabriela Schroder

Since visiting the University of Vermont in 2011 as an F1 student and attending the Stanford Sophomore College the year after, Gabriela Schroder has never stopped dreaming and working towards her objectives.

During the autumn graduation earlier in 2014, Gabriela received the Dean’s Medal. This award goes to the final-year student who achieves the best results in respect of a first Bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. Her triumph did not end there. In addition, she also received the Senate’s Medal and Prize which is awarded to the best Bachelor’s degree student at the university. Across all the faculties of our university. 

“Although these medals came to me as a surprise, it really was a reward to my hard work and toil throughout my undergraduate years,” she said. Schroder was also honoured and introduced by Prof Jonathan Jansen on stage at this year’s Kovsie Open Day, along with other top achieving students. She believes that anybody can reach their goals if they are willing to make sacrifices and through focus, hard work and determination. 

One of her favourite quotes that motives her is of Albert Einstein, “You really understand something if you can explain it to your grandmother.” In the process of learning, one must break down what they are working towards. She advises to make the knowledge your own – this develops a better insight into the concept. In the end, that which is regarded as complex is originally built from simple principles.

Schroder is currently studying towards her BSc Honours in Biochemistry at Kovsies. She has her sights set on a master’s degree in the near future.

“To my fellow Kovsies and beyond: seize your opportunities. Don’t be afraid to think the unthinkable – because you can do the undoable,” she added.

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