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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

Young researcher from UFS on SAYAS executive committee
2014-10-28



Dr Aliza le Roux
Photo: Sonia Small
Dr Aliza le Roux from the Department of Zoology and Entomology on the UFS’s Qwaqwa Campus is one of ten young scientists who was recently inaugurated as a new member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). Not only was she inducted into the society this past October, but she was also elected to serve on the executive committee for SAYAS.

Dr Le Roux’s research focus is on cognitive ecology, behavioural ecology and zoology. She has expressed her excitement about the new position, and is already developing new ideas with her new colleagues on drawing more young people into the South African scientific community.

This position provides a regional and international platform to raise the profile of science in general, and Le Roux hopes to be active in SAYAS’s new mentorship collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences, and to introduce new methods of scientific outreach using social media. Inspired by the students on the Qwaqwa Campus, Dr Le Roux hopes to specifically target relatively isolated rural campuses in SAYAS’s activities.

Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS, said, “Aliza le Roux is an outstanding young scientist on our Qwaqwa Campus. I am very excited about the young researchers on our Qwaqwa Campus with Aliza as one of the leaders, and I am looking forward to what else they can achieve in the next five years.”

SAYAS was launched in October 2011 with 20 founding members as a mechanism to propel South Africa’s young scientists to fully participate in relevant local and international research and development agendas. It provides a national platform where leading young scholars from all disciplines in the country can interact, and also access international networking and career development opportunities.

SAYAS contributes primarily to the achievement of the national strategic priority of strengthening the skills and human-resource base of the country. Its particular niche is to focus on strengthening high-level skills among young scientists and the promotion of scientific excellence.


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