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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

Music lecturer’s innovative app is a first in South Africa
2014-07-24

Dr Frelét de Villiers, lecturer at the Odeion School of Music (OSM) at the University of the Free State (UFS), is in the process of developing an innovative interactive mobile music application – Notes&Fun.

Notes&Fun is being designed to assist aspirant pianists. It will support beginners with notation and rhythmic patterns.

The app will display single notes, phrases or rhythmical patterns on the phone or tablet and then apply the built-in microphone to measure the frequency of the notes played on the piano itself. It will indicate whether you’ve played correctly, or if you have made a mistake, the correct note will be displayed. Notes&Fun consists of multiple levels, each with a practise and test mode that gradually increases in difficulty and complexity. As opposed to existing apps, Notes&Fun is conceptualised with immediate pitch detection and is applied with a real (acoustic) piano.

For the pilot phase of this initiative, the developing company Maxxor in Cape Town will create a demo app which can be downloaded for testing purposes and general feedback. Once the developing company and innovator are satisfied with the first phase, the product will be marketed vigorously on social media. The initial app will be free, but subsequent levels will need to be purchased. The developers will start a Facebook page where users of the app can add their latest scores and compete with other users. Initially the app will only be available on the Google Play Store due to the fact that more people own Android devices than Apple products. Once the product has proven to be financially viable, the developers will adapt it for the Mac App Store as well.

“The beauty of this app is that music has a universal language, so it can be marketed internationally and I am privileged to have the institutional support from the UFS Technology Unit regarding the judicial process and developing process of the product,” Dr De Villiers said.

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