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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. 


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University of Vermont bestows honorary doctorate upon Prof Jansen
2014-05-30

 
Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Jonathan Jansen, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Vermont (UVM). This special event took place on 18 May 2014 at a graduation ceremony in Vermont, USA.

Prof Jansen was honoured for the outstanding work he has done through various initiatives in South Africa and abroad. The University of Vermont especially highlighted the Leadership for Change programme, which sent two cohorts of first- year students from the UFS to UVM. This resulted in long-lasting ties between the students and staff of both institutions. "I am delighted and humbled by the international recognition for the work of the UFS and my small role in it," Prof Jansen said.

Prof Jansen was one of seven recipients of an honorary degree. One of these recipients was Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

The UVM honorary doctorate citation reads, “Jonathan David Jansen is a leading public intellectual in South Africa renowned for his passionate dedication to education, social justice and the process of reconciliation. As Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), his leadership and his pioneering work is creating unity in the diverse academic community and transforming the atmosphere on campus. As an international expert, a leader in higher education, a scholar and a teacher, Professor Jansen works to inspire and educate the next generation of global leaders.”

In 2010 Prof Jansen received an honorary doctorate in Education from the Cleveland State University, also in the USA.

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