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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

UFS sympathises with exchange students from Virginia Tech
2007-04-18

The University of the Free State (UFS) is shocked by the news of the tragedy that happened yesterday at Virginia Tech in the United States of America (USA).

Sixteen (16) students from Virginia Tech are currently studying at the Main Campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein on an exchange programme of six months.

The students are devastated because of the loss of their friends who were killed when an armed man opened fire on a hostel and classroom on the Blacksburg Campus of Virginia Tech, killing at least 33 people.

“The exchange programme between the UFS and Virginia Tech, which was implemented in 1998, stipulates that selected students from both institutions will study at the other institution for six months on an annual basis as part of the completion of their undergraduate studies. Approximately 120 students from both institutions have taken part in the exchange programme over the past couple of years,” said Prof. Izak Groenewald, co-ordinator of the agreement and Director of the UFS Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to Prof. Groenewald no students from the UFS are currently studying at Virginia Tech. “The students from Virginia Tech who are currently studying on the Main Campus are all in their third-year in agriculture and the biological sciences. They will be staying here until the completion of the June examinations, when they will return to Virginia Tech,” said Prof. Groenewald.

According to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Frederick Fourie, the UFS has already made the necessary arrangements for the students to receive pastoral and psychological counselling. “We are doing everything in our power to support them and to bring them in touch with their friends on the Blacksburg Campus,” said Prof. Fourie.

According to Prof. Groenewald the American Ambassador in South Africa, Mr Eric M. Bost, will be talking telephonically to the students this afternoon (17 April 2007).

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za
17 April 2007
 

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