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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

Student represents UFS and SA in world orchestra
2015-11-27



The A-list violist, Maja van Dyk 

Among the 100 musicians from 74 countries who performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York as part of the International Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (YPHIL) tour was Maja van Dyk. The viola player was one of two South Africans, and the only University of the Free State (UFS) representative, in the main performance of the tour on 27 September 2015.

“The highlight of the tour was definitely the concert in Carnegie Hall,” said Maja.

The fourth-year BMus student at the UFS Odeion School of Music (OSM) was one of 900 musicians between 18 and 26 years of age who auditioned for the world orchestra.  She reached a major milestone in her music career when she was selected as both our country and our university’s ambassador.

The YPHIL project is a hub for the most powerful young performers from all over the world who spotlight social issues affecting the global collective through music. This objective behind creating one symphonic voice is to unite and empower in an unconventional manner.

Over the years, Maja has gathered a wealth of experience by playing for the MIAGI Youth Orchestra, the South African National Youth Orchestra, the Free State Youth Orchestra, the OSM Camerata, and the Free State Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Bloemfontein and Stellenbosch City Orchestras.

As a member of the National Youth Orchestra, she was invited to tour the country with the world-class Zurich Chamber Orchestra and the Zürcher Kammerorchester in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Her recent international exposure cannot be separated from past stints on the world stage. “I participated in tours of The World Orchestra to Spain and Lebanon, prior to the YPhil tour to New York City this past September,” she said.

The award-winning Maja is currently playing as an ad hoc member for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. She moved to the Western Cape after she played in her last exam last week.

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