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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

CDS receives another international grant from the NIH
2015-12-11

 

Dr Carla Sharp

The Centre for Development Support (CDS) is partner to another international research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. The new project follows an earlier project funded by the NIH, which focused on the mental health of orphans and vulnerable children.

The new project is to focus on investigating possible improvements in the mental health and cognitive development of orphaned and vulnerable children aged between seven and eleven years, by means of improved community-based care in the Mangaung Township area in Bloemfontein.  The project will stretch over three years and has a budget of approximately R10 million.

“We shall use the Mediational Intervention of Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC) approach and it will be applied by community-based organisations,” says Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Acting Director of the CDS. 

MISC applied by caregivers has produced good results elsewhere in the world. “This is the first time MISC will be tested by community-based organisations,” says Prof Lochner Marais of the CDS, who is also the principal investigator in South Africa.

“In addition to working with four community-based organisations in Mangaung, Childline Free State will also be actively involved in the project,” Marais added.

The project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr Carla Sharp as principal investigator at the University of Houston, and Prof Michael Boivin (an international expert on MISC) at the Michigan State University. Dr Sharp was recently appointed visiting professor at the CDS. 

“It is indeed a great privilege to be working with the CDS on yet another project,” Dr Sharp remarked, also noting that “the project is preliminary in nature and could evolve into a much bigger research project in future”.

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