What institutions did she attend?

  • St Benedict’s School, Jamaica
  • Convent of Mercy Academy, Alpha, Jamaica
  • The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica- BSc in Biochemistry/Chemistry, MPhil in Pharmacology, PhD in Pharmacology

Other Achievements

  • UWI Principal’s Award for the best research publication in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, 2008
  • Fulbright Visiting Research Grant to sponsor training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004


Her job allows her to travel the world, something she enjoys very much.


She is a member of the Optimist Club of North St Andrew, Jamaica.


She is interested in lawn tennis, sewing and crocheting.

Maxine Gossell-Williams (Date of Birth: 23rd May 1968)

Caribbean Women in STI

Dr Maxine Deborah Gossell-Williams is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Pharmacology Section at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica. She is an advocate for research in pharmacology since it is the key to developing drugs, determining dosages, as well as reducing their side effects. Her research focuses on nutraceuticals, foods or food products that give additional medical benefits. Her work has won her recognition in her homeland, including Jamaica’s Scientific Research Council’s Young Scientist award for research that is indigenous and of economic value to that country. She has contributed to the body of research on pharmacology by publishing peer-reviewed papers and presenting at academic conferences and scientific meetings.

Dr Gossell-Williams is the first person in the Caribbean to conduct research on pumpkin seed oil. Her earliest study showed the positive effect of the oil on reducing prostate enlargement in rats, a condition caused by reduced levels of testosterone as a result of ageing. Her more recent research, which included tests on humans, showed that the oil may be beneficial in reducing some postmenopausal complications such as elevation of blood cholesterol and blood pressure, and it is the first documented study of its kind in the world. Dr Gossell-Williams is supervising two postgraduate students to continue her research on the oil.

She also has great interest in pharmacovigilance – monitoring the side effects of drugs and evaluating the performance of drugs in the Jamaican population. Her work in this area has focussed on educating Caribbean health professionals on their important role in recording and reporting drug side effects, and to sensitise them to the WHO’s global pharmacovigilance network that supports the ‘benefit versus harm’ evaluation of drugs. Another of her longer term goals is “to motivate drug companies in Jamaica to go into manufacturing local products rather than just distributing imported drugs.”

Maxine Gossell was born on 23rd May, 1968 and lived in Bay View, St Andrew, Jamaica for most of her early years. As a child, she wanted to teach, but also had an interest in doing medicine, with a special focus on obstetrics and gynaecology. She applied to medical school but was not accepted the first time, and went on to do a first degree in biochemistry and chemistry. Although she re-applied to medical school after graduating, and was accepted, she was also investigating master’s programmes, and became excited by the world of drug research that she discovered. This led to her choice to pursue pharmacology. As a young graduate, Dr Gossell-William’s first job was as a laboratory demonstrator at UWI’s Department of Biochemistry, from where she work her way up to a senior lecturer in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences.

Dr Gossell-Williams is married with two children and enjoys her roles as a mother and a wife. Even though it is challenging juggling her many duties at the office, home and as a volunteer at her children’s school, she finds it all “a wonderful experience.”


What is a pharmacologist?

Pharmacologists study chemicals, especially medical drugs, and how these affect the human body – tissues, organs and their functions. They must understand the complex biology of the body and its many different types of cells to know their relationships with chemicals. They are concerned with how a chemical is disintegrated or absorbed within the body; how it travels throughout a biological system; and which organs are or are not affected.

Often, pharmacologists will also study how drugs are metabolized within the body and whether or not they have the potential to be transformed into a different, possibly toxic chemical. They must also concern themselves with the ways that chemicals exit the body, what amounts remain, and for how long. They play a key role in developing and testing new drugs for the treatment of diseases.

Areas of Specialisation

  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacognosy

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics

A BSc in Natural Sciences such as microbiology, biology, pharmacology and pharmacy is needed to conduct drug
research. An MSc or PhD degree is required to lecture or lead research projects.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Patience
  • Good communication skills
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Willingness to work with live animal specimens

Famous Pharmacologists

  • Pedanius Dioscorides
  • Mikhail Mashkovsky
  • Rudolf Buchheim
  • Jonathan Pereira
  • Alexander Fleming