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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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Prof Oriel Thekisoe receives prestigious TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award
2014-07-07

 Prof Oriel Thekisoe
Photo: Sonia Small
Prof Oriel Thekisoe from the UFS was named recipient of the prestigious TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award. The announcement was made during the 16th Annual NSTF-BHP Billiton 2013/2014 Awards Gala Dinner held in Johannesburg on Thursday 3 July 2014.

Prof Thekisoe is an Associate Professor in the university's Department of Zoology and Entomology at the Qwaqwa Campus.

He has been recognised as an emerging researcher for his outstanding contribution to Science, Engineering and Technology (SET).

"It is a great honour for the university to learn that Prof Thekisoe has won the award of the National Science and Technology Forum. This is a very competitive award and speaks of the quality and depth of talent at the UFS as we prepare the next generation of scientists and scholars,” said Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

"I hope that the award will inspire our current science students to work harder in pursuing the discovery of new methods and techniques which will improve our livelihoods,” Prof Thekisoe said after receiving the award from the Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor. “I am grateful to the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Neil Heideman, for believing in me. I am also grateful to my former lecturers, Profs Peter Mbati, who is now the Rector of the University of Venda, and Noboru Inoue, from Japan’s Obihiro University, for grooming and inspiring the scientist in me.”

"Prof Thekisoe is at the forefront of the research development activities at the Qwaqwa Campus,” said Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS. “He serves as a mentor to many of the younger scholars on the campus. As one of the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Scholars at the university, he has the potential to become one of the most prominent researchers in his field in the country."

The Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Programme (PSP) supports the accelerated scholarship of junior UFS researchers in the first five years after obtaining their PhDs. The prestige scholars participate in an intensive programme of support that includes international placement and intensive mentorship.

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