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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

First-years welcomed to the Kovsie family
2017-01-30

Description: Prof Francis Petersen  Tags: Prof Francis Petersen

Newly appointed Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the
University of the Free State, Prof Francis Petersen during
the first-year welcoming.
Photo: Charl Devenish

“How do you like my new blazer? Do you think these stripes suit me?” These were the words of the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State, Prof Francis Petersen, as he took to the stage in his #ProudlyKovsies blazer to welcome the 2017 first-years to the Kovsie family.

The event, which was also the start of the first-year Gateway Programme, took place on Saturday, 21 January 2017, and saw first-years and their parents make their way to the Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus where they were formally welcomed.

UFS to produce world graduates
As newcomers, Prof Petersen wanted the fresh faces to feel welcome, to feel a sense of belonging. “You are now a Kovsie, and we want you to experience that Kovsie life until you graduate,” he told them.

During his speech, Prof Petersen reassured parents that the academic year would be completed and that the UFS would operate as an institution. He encouraged the students to absorb and gain knowledge and said the university would strive to ensure excellent knowledge. “At the UFS, we want to produce graduates for the world, and we need to ensure that we use our knowledge to uplift society,” he said.

Use differences to benefit from one another
KovsieFM presenters, Tshwaro Thothela and Gontse Choane played host to the gathering and Pura Mgolombane, Dean of Student Affairs, encouraged the first-years to use their differences to benefit from one another and to learn from this opportunity. “Make sure that the good that you do is for yourself, for others and for the university,” he said.

Prof Nicky Morgan, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector, welcomed Prof Petersen, his wife Cheslyn, and their two sons, Curtis and Clayton, to the UFS.

The newcomers also had an opportunity to visit their respective faculties and get to know the staff and facilities better.

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