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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

Harvard couple to present lectures on Biostatistics and Mathematics at the UFS
2015-12-07


Professor Donald Rubin

Prof Donald Rubin (John L. Loeb Professor of Statistics at Harvard University) and Elizabeth Zell (MStat - mathematical statistician in the Division of Bacterial Diseases) will visit the University of the Free State (UFS) where they will present lectures on their respective work.

Over his prestigious academic career, Prof Don Rubin’s 400 publications and 13 books have earned him around 180 000 citations at an h-index of 113. He is one of the most cited statisticians/mathematicians/economists/psychologists in the world over the last 10 -15 years. He has supervised 35 PhD candidates as sole-supervisor, 17 more as co-supervisor, with a further eight in the pipeline.

Prof Rubin who will meet with UFS academics in the Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences will also deliver a lecture: Rerandomisation to improve covariate balance in experiments.

Randomised experiments are the “gold standard” for estimating causal effects, yet in practice, chance imbalances often exist in covariate distributions between treatment groups. If covariate data are available before units are exposed to treatments, these chance imbalances can be mitigated by first checking covariate balance before the physical experiment takes place. Provided a precise definition of imbalance has been specified in advance, unbalanced randomisations can be discarded, followed by a rerandomisation. This process can continue until a randomisation yielding balance according to the definition is achieved. By improving covariate balance, rerandomisation provides more precise and trustworthy estimates of treatment effects.

Prof Rubin received an honorary professorship from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.


Elizabeth Zell

The lecture will take place on:
Date: Tuesday 8 December 2015
Time: 16:00
Venue: Albert Wessels Auditorium, Bloemfontein Campus

Zell earned her Master’s degree in Statistics at North Carolina State University, and for more than two decades, was an active bio-statistical researcher in various offices of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Since 2013, she has been the Principal Statistician and President of Stat-Epi Associates, Inc. Her 150+ publications have earned her 14 500 citations at an h-index of over 50. She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and, in 2010, she received the Statistics Section Government Award for outstanding contributions to statistics and public health by the American Public Health Association. During her career at the CDC, she earned more than 20 CDC research awards and honours.

She will deliver two lectures at the UFS. The first is entitled A Potential Outcomes Approach to Documenting the Public Health Impact of the Introduction of PCV13 for the Prevention of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease. The topic of her second lecture is: Assessing the Effectiveness of Intrapartum Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Prevention of Early-Onset Group B Streptococcus Disease through Propensity Score Design

Elizabeth’s lectures will take place on:
Date: Wednesday 9 December 2015
Time: 10:45 and 13:00
Venue: West Block 111, Bloemfontein Campus

For more information, please contact Dr Michael von Maltitz at VMaltitzMJ@ufs.ac.za.

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