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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

New modern dissection hall ensures optimal learning experience for medical students
2015-12-14

New Dissection Hall in the Francois Retief Building on the Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Stephen Collett

The School of Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the university opened its doors on 6 June 1969. Three years later, a dissection hall for anatomy training was added to the school. This year, because of the prospective growth in the number of medical students as well as in changing methods of teaching and training, a new modern Dissection Hall has been completed on the Bloemfontein Campus. This ensures that students receive an optimal learning experience during dissection tuition.

The Dissection Hall was built as a double-storey wing to the existing Francois Retief Building. Covering 733m², the new facility is on the first floor - the same level as the existing hall - to allow easy access between the two facilities. The ground floor, totalling 465m², houses various offices for 16 people.

The new hall has special lighting and modern equipment for the training of second-year medical students in dissection. The hall also has high-quality sound and computer equipment. A unique camera system allows students to follow dissection demonstrations on 10 screens in the hall. Dissection demonstrations are recorded, enabling lecturers to compile new visual aid material for teaching and learning.

The dissection programme for medical students is of critical importance, not only for acquiring anatomical knowledge, but also for developing critical skills in medical students.

The new hall is also used for clinical workshops and postgraduate teaching seminars, as well as workshops in orthopaedics (shoulder, hip, and knee), otorhinolaryngology, cardiothoracic surgery (valve and endoscopy), and anaesthesiology, among others.

Both present and future generations of medical students will benefit from this new world-class facility.

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