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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

Two research chairs awarded to UFS women
2015-09-15


Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Two professors at the University of the Free State (UFS) have just been chosen as recipients of research chairs by the National Research Foundation’s South African Research Chair Initiative.

The research chairs are a massive financial injection for research in each of the relevant disciplines – that of Profs Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela from the Centre for Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the UFS, and Felicity Burt from the Department of Medical Microbiology in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Profs Gobodo-Madikizela and Burt are two of 42 female researchers in the country receiving research chairs as an initiative to give due recognition to women in research.

Profs Hendrik Swart, from our Departement of Physics and Melany Walker, Director, Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, each also holds research chairs by the NRF. A third research chair has also been granted to the UFS Department of Plant Sciences for the research in field crops.


Prof Felicity Burt

The work of Prof Burt’s research chair is to investigate medically significant vector-borne and zoonotic viruses currently circulating; to define associations between these viruses and specific disease manifestations that have previously not been described in our region, to increase awareness of these pathogens; to further our understanding of host immune responses, which should facilitate development of novel treatments or vaccines and drug discovery.

Prof Gobodo-Madikizela, who has received international recognition for her work on forgiveness studies, will use this research chair to investigate historical trauma within two African contexts – those of South Africa and Rwanda. She hopes to gain insight into the role that memory plays in the formation of the experience of trauma, and to bring about healing of the trauma.

Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS, expressed her pride on the announcement.

“We are extremely proud of the national recognition these two outstanding women researchers received.  The UFS strives for research excellence, and the five current NRF research chairs, as well as two NRF A-graded researchers who are at the forefront of their disciplines globally, indicates our continued commitment to innovating, relevant, and high-impact research.  We are excited about the progress of the past two years to position the UFS as a national leader in research.”

 

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