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Joseph Lister, in full Joseph Lister, Baron Lister of Lyme Regis, also called (1883–97) Sir Joseph Lister, Baronet, (born April 5, 1827, Upton, Essex, England—died February 10, 1912, Walmer, Kent), British surgeon and medical scientist who was the founder of antiseptic medicine and a pioneer in preventive medicine.
Joseph Lister Biography. Joseph Lister was a surgeon who introduced principles of cleanliness and antiseptic routines, which drastically helped to improve survival rates from surgery. Overcoming opposition from within the medical profession, Lister successfully advocated and popularised the preventative methods until it became standard practise. Lister’s work increased the safety of major operations and enabled a greater ranger of surgery to be taken place.
- Early Years
- Research and Personal Life
- Implementation of Antisepsis
- Lifesaving Antiseptic Success
- Later Life and Honors
- Death and Legacy
- Joseph Lister Fast Facts
Born on April 5, 1827 in Essex, England, Joseph Lister was the fourth of seven children born to Joseph Jackson Lister and Isabella Harris. Lister's parents were devout Quakers, and his father was a successful wine merchant with scientific interests of his own: he invented the first achromatic microscopelens, an endeavor that earned him the honor of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. The young Lister's love for science grew as he became fascinated with the microscopic world introduced to him by his father. Lister decided at an early age that he wanted to become a surgeon and thus prepared for this eventual career by delving into science and mathematics subjects at the Quaker schools he attended in London. After entering the University of London in 1844, Lister earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1847 and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1852. Lister's achievements during this time included serving as house surgeon at the University College Hospital of the University of...
In 1854, Lister went to the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in Scotland to study under the famous surgeon James Syme. Under Syme, Lister's professional and personal life flourished: he met and married Syme's daughter, Agnes, in 1856. Agnes was invaluable as a wife and partner, assisting Joseph with his medical research and laboratory experiments. Joseph Lister's research was centered on inflammation and its impact on wound healing. He published a number of papers regarding muscle activity in the skin and eyes, coagulation of blood, and blood vesselengorgement during inflammation. Lister's research led to his appointment as Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow in 1859. In 1860, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society.
By 1861, Lister was leading the surgical ward at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. During this time in history, surgery was performed only when absolutely necessary due to high death rates associated with infections. With little understanding of how germs like bacteriacaused disease, surgical procedures were regularly performed in unsanitary conditions. In an attempt to combat wound infections, Lister began to employ cleanliness techniques used by Florence Nightingale and others. This process involved keeping the environment clean, changing dressings, and washing hands. However, it was not until he read the works of Louis Pasteurthat Lister began to link germs with surgical wounds. While Lister was not the first to suggest that microorganisms were the cause of hospital associated diseases or that infections could be reduced through antiseptic methods, he was able to marry these ideas and effectively implement treatment for wound infections. In 1865, Lister began using carbolic acid (phen...
Lister's first success case was an eleven year old boy who had suffered injuries from a horse cart accident. Lister employed antiseptic procedures during treatment, then found that the boy's fractures and wounds healed without infection. Further success ensued as nine of eleven other cases where carbolic acid was used to treat wounds showed no signs of infection. In 1867, three articles written by Lister were published in London's weekly medical journal, The Lancet. The articles outlined Lister's method of antiseptic treatment based on the germ theory. In August of 1867, Lister announced at the Dublin meeting of the British Medical Association that no deaths associated with blood poisoning or gangrene had occurred since antiseptic methods had been fully employed in his wards at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary.
In 1877, Lister assumed the chair of Clinical Surgery at King's College in London and began practicing at King's College Hospital. There, he continued to research ways to improve his antiseptic methods and develop new methods for treating injuries. He popularized the use of gauze bandages for wound treatment, developed rubber drainage tubes, and created ligatures made from sterile catgut for stitching wounds. While Lister's ideas of antisepsis were not immediately accepted by many of his peers, his ideas eventually gained nearly worldwide acceptance. For his outstanding achievements in surgery and medicine, Joseph Lister was ennobled a Baronet by Queen Victoriain 1883 and received the title Sir Joseph Lister. In 1897, he was made Baron Lister of Lyme Regis and awarded the Order of Merit by King Edward VII in 1902.
Joseph Lister retired in 1893 following the death of his beloved wife Agnes. He later suffered a stroke, but was still able to consult on treatment for King Edward VII's appendicitis surgery in 1902. By 1909, Lister had lost the ability to read or write. Nineteen years after the passing of his wife, Joseph Lister died on February 10, 1912 at Walmer in Kent, England. He was 84 years old. Joseph Lister revolutionized surgical practices by applying the germ theory to surgery. His willingness to experiment with new surgical techniques led to the development of antiseptic methods that focused on keeping wounds free of pathogens. While changes have been made to Lister's antisepsis methods and materials, his antiseptic principles remain the foundation for today's medical practice of asepsis (total elimination of microbes) in surgery.Full Name:Joseph ListerAlso Known As:Sir Joseph Lister, Baron Lister of Lyme RegisKnown For:First to implement antiseptic method in surgery; father of modern surgeryBorn:April 5, 1827 in Essex, EnglandFitzharris, Lindsey. The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine. Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.Gaw, Jerry L. A Time to Heal: the Diffusion of Listerism in Victorian Britain. American Philosophical Society, 1999.Pitt, Dennis, and Jean-Michel Aubin. "Joseph Lister: Father of Modern Surgery." National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc...Simmons, John Galbraith. Doctors and Discoveries: Lives That Created Today's Medicine. Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
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Joseph Lister was born in Upton, Essex, England, on April 5, 1827, the fourth of Joseph Jackson Lister and Isabella Harris Lister's seven children. His father was a wealthy wine merchant and student of Latin and mathematics who also developed an achromatic (possessing no color) lens for the microscope. As a child Lister studied fish and small animals.
- Early life and family
- Background and education
- Awards and honours
- Later years
Acknowledged as the Father of Antiseptic Surgery, Joseph Listers contributions paved the way to safer medical procedures. His introduction of the antiseptic process dramatically decreased deaths from childbirth and surgery and changed the way the medical industry looked at sanitation and proper hygiene.
Joseph Lister was born on April 5, 1827 in Upton, Essex, England. His father, Joseph Jackson Lister, was not only a wine merchant, but was also an amateur scientist. He was the second among three children.
Coming from a family of Quakers, the young Joseph Lister also attended Quaker Schools in London and Hertfordshire. Quaker Schools put in a great amount of emphasis in the sciences, giving him a strong foundation in what was to be his chosen profession.
He observed the first surgical procedure that used anesthesia in 1846. He then attended the University of London where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1847. Later on, he qualified to become a medical student and earned his Bachelors degrees in Medicine and Surgery. Because of his exceptional performance, he was awarded with two university gold medals and easily became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons the same year in 1852. He then became the dresser for Professor of Clinical Surgery James Syme in Edinburgh, and eventually became his house surgeon.
He married Symes daughter, Agnes, who became his laboratory partner because of her great interest in medical research.
Looking at research done by Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist known for his vaccination, fermentation and pasteurization principles, he agreed with the latters belief that germs are usually contracted from the air. Because Lister was a wine merchants son, he knew that wine went bad because the fermentation process was not done properly, and not because germs spontaneously came to life within the wine as evolutionists believed. Applying this thought to open wounds, he knew that the only solution was to find a way to kill the germs before they get the chance to enter the wound, preventing the infection to occur.
As expected, it took a long time for other people in the medical field to accept Listers findings. A lot of them were incredulous at the thought that organisms too small to be seen were causing all the post-operation deaths. Some found it tiring to have to go through the sterilization process before performing an operation. And although some of them tried Listers methods, majority of them did it incorrectly that their efforts proved to be useless. He was now a Professor of Clinical Surgery in Edinburgh, and he continued to modify his system to achieve better results despite the negative feedback.
Queen Victoria dubbed him Sir Joseph Lister in 1883. He became Lord Lister of Lyme Regis in 1897, and was the first to become a British peer for services to medicine. He was given the Order of Merit in 1902, and was made Privy Councilor.
He became the Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons and President of the Royal Society. He was also President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He helped establish the British Institute of Preventative Medicine in 1891, which was later on called The Lister Institute in his honor.
With all his achievements, he finally retired in 1893, shortly after his wife died in 1892. He still entertained requests for his advice and services from time to time, although he was left a bit melancholic after losing his life partner. Joseph Lister died in Walmer, Kent, England on February 10, 1912 at the age of 84.
Joseph Lister was a British surgeon who was the founder of antiseptic medicine and a pioneer in preventive medicine. He is credited to have introduced the method of sterilizing surgical instruments with carbolic acid which greatly reduced the risk of post-operative infections in patients.