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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

Growth in scholarly books ‘is remarkable’
2016-09-16

Description: Scholarly Books 2016 Tags: Scholarly Books 2016

The UFS is proud of the variety of books and
scholarly articles published by scholars
in various fields.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The UFS has shown steady growth in its output of scholarly articles. Dr Glen Taylor, Senior Director of Research Development, says “the UFS has shown remarkable growth in the output of scholarly book publications over the recent years." The 13,83 subsidy units from scholarly books in 2010 has grown to 98,52 in 2014, elevating the university to fourth position nationwide. 

“It is encouraging for the research office to see that the number of books has increased over the years, together with the units we receive for subsidy, but also the steady increase in the quality of our scholarly books in general,” he said.

Contributors to the growth in scholarly publications include Dr Christian Williams of the Department of Anthropology, celebrated journalist Zubeida Jaffer, as well as JC van der Merwe, the Deputy Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ), and Dionne van Reenen, researcher and PhD candidate at the IRSJ. Dr Williams received the 2016 Distinguished Scholar Book Prize at the official opening of the UFS earlier this year. The book, National Liberation in Postcolonial Southern Africa: A Historical Ethnography of SWAPO’s exile camps, is the first full-length scholarly monograph on SWAPO and Namibians in exile. 
 
The 13,83 subsidy units from scholarly books in 2010 was approximately a 10% increase in outputs from 2005 to 2010. In 2010, the higher education institution sector as a whole produced 401,68 units from scholarly books. The UFS contribution of approximately 3,44% put the university in tenth position. 

“The increase in subsidy for scholarly books should stimulate the sector further, and an increase in scholarly books is expected, which complements the university research output strategy to become a leading research-intensive institution,” Dr Taylor said.

 

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