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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

PSP produces first Y1-rating in UFS Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
2015-12-14

Dr Andrew Cohen, a research fellow at the University of the Free State, recently received a distinguished National Research Foundation Y1-rating.
Photo: Sonia Small

The latest success story of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) is that the first National Research Foundation (NRF) Y1-rating was awarded recently to a scholar while teaching in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dr Andrew Cohen received this distinguished rating on 10 November 2015. It is awarded to a “young” (younger than 40) scholar five years or less post-PhD, whose curriculum vitae predicts, according to a panel of international and local reviewers, that he is poised to become a leader in his field. Dr Cohen is a research fellow at the UFS.

This rating is a reflection of Dr Cohen’s record over the past eight years, and the scholarly environment he was part of at the UFS under leadership of Prof Ian Phimister. Cohen is currently a research fellow in Prof Phimister’s International Studies Group.  He taught economic history in the Department of Economics until September 2015, when he joined the School of History at the University of Kent.

Dr Cohen’s professional trajectory is emblematic of the visionary approach of the UFS Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP): to support prestige scholars with advanced mentorship, and the creation of a college of peers in order to nurture intellectual breadth and depth to generate knowledge over disciplines.

The PSP was initiated by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS in 2011.

“Jonathan Jansen’s prestige scholars have become sought after in the academic community at large, as this recent appointment at the University of Kent indicates,” says Professor Neil Roos, co-director of the PSP. “Yet the alumni’s commitment to the programme, the university and their peers continues.”

Cohen is the editor (with Casper Andersen) of the five volume, The Government and Administration of Africa, 1880-1939. Dr Cohen’s next project is forthcoming from I.B. Tauris, The Politics and Economics of Decolonisation: The Failed Experiment of the Central African Federation.

 

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