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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

An out-of-this-world experience
2015-12-14

Film premiere hosts Professor Matie Hoffman, manager of the Naval Hill Planetarium and the planetarium’s operations manager, Tina Mangope.

The Naval Hill Planetarium in Bloemfontein premiered two new short astronomy films on 4 December 2015, with marvellous cosmic visuals explaining how the earth and all the planetary formations in our galaxy and the universe were created.

The two films, aptly titled ‘Cosmic Collisions’ and ‘Journey to the Stars’, were both made to enhance people’s knowledge about the universe and the vast dynamics within it. They were donated to the Bloemfontein-based planetarium by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with several other US space science intuitions, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“These two fantastic state-of-the-art films are scientifically accurate and very expansive,” said Professor Matie Hoffman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of the Free State. Hoffman is also the planetarium’s manager.

Nestled in the bushy landscape of historic Naval Hill - also home to the iconic statue of Nelson Mandela and the Franklin Game Reserve - the Naval Hill Planetarium was opened in 2013. It is the first digital planetarium in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is situated at the old Lamont-Hussey Observatory Building, which was closed in 1972.



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