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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

Recognition to excellent researchers
2004-11-16

The University of the Free State will give recognition to excellent researchers at UFS on Tuesday 16 November 2004. “This recognition function will also serve as the first annual lecture in research excellence,” says Prof Frans Swanepoel, Director of Research Development Division at the UFS.

This is the first occasion of its kind in the UFS. It coincides with the university’s centenary celebrations. The recognition of excellent research shows the UFS’s commitment and innovative focus on research as one of its core functions,” says Prof. Swanepoel.

Recognition will be given in different categories. They are female researchers, black researchers, young researchers, C- and L-Rated researchers, researchers with significant research outputs, B-Rated researchers and distinguished professors in research.

The promotion of equity and development of research capacity of designated groups is one of the objectives of the UFS’s research strategy therefore the university is recognising the research achievements of 21 women and 16 black persons. Amongst these are Prof. Margaret Raftery (English and Classical Languages), Dr Liesl van As (Zoology and Entomology), Prof. Peter Mbati (head of the Qwaqwa campus) and Prof. Charles Ngwena (Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law).

The UFS is also recognising nine young researchers. They must hold a doctorate and have the potential to establish themselves as researchers within a five-year period based on their performance and productivity as researchers during their doctoral studies and/or early post-doctoral careers. Amongst them are Dr Esta van Heerden (Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology) and Prof. André Jooste (Agricultural Economics).

Fifty-eight established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity are receiving recognition in the C- and L-rated researchers’ category. Amongst them were Prof. Hennie van Coller (Afrikaans, Dutch, German and French) and Prof. Gert Erasmus (Animal- and Wildlife- and Grassland Sciences).

Prof. Francois Tolmie (New Testament) and Prof. Gina Joubert (Biostatistics) are two of the twelve researchers that are receiving recognition for having excelled in research outputs during recent years.

Nine researchers are acknowledged in the B-category for the international recognition they receive from their peers for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs. Amongst them were Prof. Johan Grobbelaar (Plant Sciences) and Prof. Hendrik Swart (Physics). Prof. Grobbelaar focused in his research on limnology, algal biotechnology, plant stress and Prof. Swart focused on solid state physics and degradation mechanisms that are responsible for the degradation of field emission and TV displays.

Seven individuals are recognised for their exceptional achievements as researchers. Prof. Frederick Fourie, Rector, but previously in the Department of Economics, is recognised for his research in two policy areas: Political Economics, Government Finance and Fiscal Policy, and Industrial Economics, in particular analysis of the South African industrial structure and competition policy, where his research contributions played a key role in reforming South Africa’s competition policy.

Prof. Lodewyk Kock (Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology) focuses in his research mainly on pure and oxidised edible oil where yeasts are used as a study model. He obtained national as well as international recognition for this research program.

The UFS is also awarding the S2A3 Bronze Medal to recognise a Master’s degree student who has delivered outstanding research in one of the sciences. Mr Pieter Taljaard and Ms Tania Venter are recognised in this category.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
 

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