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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

Boyden observatory celebrates its achievements
2004-10-05

The red carpet will be rolled out and champagne glasses filled tonight when the Boyden Observatory outside Bloemfontein will launch the first phase of the new science centre.

This phase, which was completed earlier this year, consists of a new auditorium, reception area and paths which connect educational visiting points on the Boyden terrain.

“Over the past two years the Boyden Observatory has been re-sited as a research, educational and public facility. The new facilities are now being utilised for educational and public programmes. The 1,5m Boyden telescope has also recently been upgraded and is used for research purposes,” says Dr Matie Hoffman from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Physics, who is responsible for the management of the centre.

“The Boyden Observatory is a unique facility of the UFS - we are one of the few universities in the world who has its own observatory,” says Dr Hoffman.

“The main purpose of the science centre is to create enthusiasm for science amongst the public. The centre also has a great educational function and focuses specifically on the improvement of the quality of science education in the Free State,” says Dr Hoffman.

Fund-raising for the planned second phase of the science centre, which will consist of interactive in- and outside exhibition areas, will also start tonight. “After the completion of the second phase the Boyden Observatory will probably become the most accessible and public-friendly observatory in the country and a great asset for the Free State Province,” says Dr Hoffman.

A small robotic telescope, which will be controlled from the University College Dublin in Ireland, will also be installed at the Boyden Observatory this year.

“Just as this year is a significant one for the UFS with its centenary celebrations, so it is also a significant one for the Boyden Observatory. The Harvard University in the United States of America started with the construction of the original 1,5 m telescope in its original form 100 years ago, the telescope was put in place at Boyden 70 years ago and Mr Uriah Boyden – the person who donated the money with which the Boyden Observatory was constructed, was born 200 years ago,” says Dr Hoffman.

The first phase of the science centre was built with funds sponsored by the AngloGold Fund, the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Charl van der Merwe Trust and the Lila Theron Trust. Donations from the Friends of Boyden Observatory and other individuals also contributed to the success of the project.

Those who are interested in educational tours of the science centre can contact Dr Hoffman at (051) 401-2322.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
5 October 2004

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