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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

National Science Week – today's science, tomorrow's world
2014-07-30

 
For the 2014 National Science Week, the university – in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology – celebrate this country-wide event at our South Campus. For one week each year, universities, schools and science centres across South Africa highlight the role that science plays in everyday life. The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Today’s Science, Tomorrow’s World.’

Over 4 000 learners, educators, parents and dignitaries converged at the campus on Saturday 2 August 2014 to experience science at work. The day featured an array of exciting science activities, including a sky-viewing opportunity at the nearby Boyden Observatory.

“Every aspect of life is touched by science. And with more vibrancy in the approach to teaching maths and science, great potential can be unlocked among young people – impacting on quality of life in the future,” said Dr Choice Makhetha, the Vice-Rector of the University of the Free State.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, also spoke at the event. "Our success depends on whether our country is ready to harness the advantage of large numbers of young people who are able and willing to work. This is where the provision of education becomes an important resource in ensuring that our young people are well prepared and equipped with knowledge and skills to handle life."

Events such as the National Science Week, Minister Pandor said, were aimed at boosting interest in scientific and technological development and innovation. This, in turn, helps the country transform into a knowledge-based economy. 


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