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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

International Year of Crystallography attracts science experts from across the globe
2014-10-13



Video: Discover what Chrystallopgraphy can do for you
Video: Celebrating Crystallography: An Animated Adventure

Summit programme

The third world summit in the International Year of Crystallography (in Africa) will be hosted by the UFS Department of Chemistry here on the Bloemfontein Campus. Prof André Roodt, Head of the Department of Chemistry, was elected as the President of the European Crystallographic Association in 2012. Earlier this year he unveiled the Max von Laue 'Plaque' in Posnan, Poland.

The Pan-African Meeting of the International Year of Crystallography consists of a congress and summit. The details are as follows:

Congress
12–15 October 2014
CR Swart Senate Hall, UFS Bloemfontein Campus

Summit

15–17 October 2014
CR Swart Senate Hall, UFS Bloemfontein Campus
Summit opening: Wednesday 15 October 2014 at 14:00 in the CR Swart Senate Hall

This event will be opened and attended by:
•    the UFS Rector and Vice-Rector – Profs Jonathan Jansen and Corli Witthuhn;
•    the acting Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology – Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde;
•    the acting CEO of the National Research Foundation – Dr Gansen Pillay;
•    the UNESCO Vice-Director for Science Extension – Dr Jean-Paul Ngome-Abiaga (Paris, France);
•    the representative of the Executive Committee for the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) – Prof Santiago Garcia-Granda (Oviedo: Spain);
•    the marketing director of the IUCr – Prof Michele Zema (Pavia, Italy);
•    the President of the European Crystallographic Association (ECA) – Prof André Roodt, who will officially open the summit on Wednesday 15 October 2014 from 14:00–15:30.

Presenters from across Africa and Europe will deliver papers at this event which will be attended by more than 100 delegates from twenty-plus countries, including Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Russia and India.

Numerous crystallographic research areas will be covered. This includes:
•    powder diffraction,
•    small molecule crystallography,
•    biological crystallography,
•    industrial crystallography,
•    surface crystallography,
as well as techniques such as
•    electron microscopy and
•    synchrotron work.

“At this event we hope to establish an African Crystallographic Association,” said Prof Roodt.

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography. It was recently officially opened at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, by the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon.

The International Year of Crystallography celebrates the centennial of the work of Max von Laue and the father and son, William Henry and William Laurence Bragg. More generally, it celebrates what crystallography can do for humanity – which proves to be a significant amount.

 

 


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