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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

Cultural immersion programme for Rutgers University students
2014-07-29

 

After a community engagement induction, Rutgers University students head out to visit communities.
Photo: Supplied

The International Office and the Department for Community Engagement will host a week-long cultural immersion programme for eight students of Rutgers University from 27 July – 2 August 2014. The Rutgers Graduate School of Education's South Africa Initiative (SAI) bridges cultures, connects educators and provides hope for learners and students from South Africa and the United States.

This interdisciplinary programme provides teachers and students on both sides of the world with the opportunity to exchange information through service learning, training and distance technology. This leads to educational gains for students and educators in both countries.

The Rutgers group of master’s, PhD and undergraduate students will visit two NGOs working with children at risk in the community of Heidedal, namely Tshepo Foundation and Lebone Village. The week-long programme will include lectures on the social, cultural and historical background of pre- and post-apartheid South Africa. Speakers from various departments and faculties of the UFS will feature during this event. These include the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, the Postgraduate School, the Department of History, African Languages, as well as Education.

Prof André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, will share the transformation story of our university with the group. Dr Henriette van den Berg will speak on mentoring postgraduate students to become successful researchers of the future.

This year marks the 12th anniversary of the SAI Cultural Immersion Program and a fruitful partnership with the UFS and other South African universities. Over the years SAI has provided tonnes of school books and supplies which have been shared with more than 2 000 learners in South Africa. Special projects such as the Literacy Through Photography and Brielle Digital Stories Project have been conducted by SAI alumni in schools. These have resulted in thousands of dollars of support given directly to South African schools.


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