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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

UFS awarded five South African Research Chairs
2016-09-30

Description: South African Research Chairs Tags: South African Research Chairs

From left to right, Prof Maryke Labuschagne,
Prof Corli Witthuhn (Vice-Rector: Research),
Prof Hendrik Swart and Prof Felicity Burt.

The UFS was awarded five SARChI (South African Research Chairs Initiative) research chairs, the main goal of which is to promote research excellence. In addition, there has been an increase in the rating of the University’s researchers as the result of raised academic standards over the past few years, in line with the UFS’s Academic Project. As of 2016 the UFS has 127 NRF-rated researchers.

The following research chairs have been awarded to the UFS since 2013:

Prof Hendrik Swart from the Department of Physics is the research chair of Solid State Luminescent and Advanced Materials (2013-2017). Prof Swart’s research may assist in reducing vulnerability and contributing to poverty alleviation by providing affordable lighting for people in rural areas through fabricating phosphors and the development of nanophosphors.

Prof Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences is the research chair of Disease Resistance and Quality in Field Crops (2016-2020). Prof Labuschagne believes that food security is one of the key factors for stability and prosperity on the continent. Her research and that of her students focuses on the genetic improvement of food security crops in Africa, including such staples as maize and cassava.

Research Chairs have been designed, to attract
and retain excellence in research and innovation
at South African universities.

Prof Melanie Walker, from the Department of Higher Education and Human Development, was awarded the research chair from 2013 to 2017. Prof Walker’s research interrogates the role of higher education in order to advance human development and justice in education and society, especially in relation to severe inequalities and poverty. Significantly, it asks what kind of societies we want, what is important in a democratic society, and thus, what kind of higher education is valuable, relevant and desirable.

Prof Felicity Burt from the Department of Medical Microbiology was recently awarded the research chair from 2016 to 2020, to investigate medically significant vector-borne and zoonotic viruses currently; to define associations between these viruses and specific disease manifestations that have previously not been described in our region, to increase awareness of these pathogens; to further our understanding of host immune responses, which should facilitate development of novel treatments or vaccines and drug discovery.

The Humanities without Borders: Trauma, History and Memory research chair was awarded from 2016 to 2020. The Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation will use this research chair to investigate historical trauma within two African contexts – those of South Africa and Rwanda. The research hopes to bring insight into the role that memory plays in the formation of the experience of trauma, and to bring about healing of the trauma.

Research Chairs have been designed by the Department of Science and Technology, together with the National Research Foundation, to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation at South African public universities.

 

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