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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

Infrastructure development booming at UFS
2016-09-30

Description: Physics and Geography Complex on the Qwaqwa Campus  Tags: Physics and Geography Complex on the Qwaqwa Campus

The new Physics and Geography Complex on the
Qwaqwa Campus is connected to the existing
Chemistry Building.

Photo: Charl Devenish

As a world-class tertiary institution, the University of the Free State (UFS) boasts with three new buildings on its Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses since 2015. All of these buildings are extensions to current buildings, supporting the university’s vision of excellence in academic achievement.

Extensions and additions to the value of R23 million were made to the existing Biotechnology Building. The funding was provided by the Department of Higher Education and Training. The additions were made to the southwestern corner of the existing building. Further developments to the building includes: six new offices, a lecture hall for 70 students, and laboratories accommodating 56 postgraduate students.

Prof Martie Smit, Academic Head of this department, says: “This new and refurbished facility enables us to give our best. As academics, we are committed to do our part in delivering high-quality education on both undergraduate and postgraduate levels to students envisaging a future in biotechnology.”

Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic, is proud of the heights the department has reached to date. “The Department of Physics is undoubtedly one of the jewels in the crown of our university, and we are very proud of its developments. Universities are built on legacies, and they are also about change, which is what this department has been demonstrating.”
The new Physics and Geography Complex on the Qwaqwa Campus is connected to the existing Chemistry Building. The building is the first of its kind on the campus and boasts an auditorium with 360 seats and a Geography Information System laboratory with 100 work stations.
 

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