Lister, Joseph

Lister, Joseph

biographical name


Joseph Lister, 1857—Courtesy of the Wellcome Trustees, London

(born April 5, 1827, Upton, Essex, Eng.—died Feb. 10, 1912, Walmer, Kent) British surgeon and medical scientist. He received a medical degree from Oxford in 1852 and became an assistant to James Syme, the greatest surgical teacher of the day. In 1861 he was appointed surgeon to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where he observed that 45–50% of amputation patients died from sepsis (infection). Initially he theorized that airborne dust might cause sepsis, but in 1865 he learned of Louis Pasteur's theory that microorganisms cause infection. Using phenol as an antiseptic, Lister reduced mortality in his ward to 15% within four years. Most surgeons were unconvinced until a widely publicized operation under antiseptic conditions was successful. By the time of his retirement in 1893, he had seen his principle accepted almost universally. He is regarded as the founder of antiseptic medicine.

Variants of LISTER, JOSEPH

Lister, Joseph later Baron Lister (of Lyme Regis)

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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