Joseph Lister

From WikiMD's Health & Wellness Encyclopedia

Sir Joseph Lister, 1st Baronet, OM, PC, FRS (5 April 1827 – 10 February 1912) was a British surgeon and pioneer of aseptic surgery. His revolutionary approach to the prevention of surgical infection greatly transformed the landscape of modern medicine.

Joseph Lister 1902

Early Life and Education

Lister was born on 5 April 1827 in Upton, Essex, England. He studied medicine at the University College, London and graduated as a Bachelor of Medicine in 1852.


In 1854, Lister became both the first assistant to James Syme, the professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of Edinburgh, and his son-in-law. He went on to work as a professor at both the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh.

Introduction to Antiseptic Surgery

During his tenure in Glasgow, Lister started to research the causes of post-surgical infection, then a major issue in hospitals. In 1865, influenced by Louis Pasteur's work on germ theory, Lister began using carbolic acid, a strong antiseptic, to cleanse wounds and surgical instruments. This marked the beginning of antiseptic surgery.

Contributions to Medicine

Lister's adoption of antiseptic surgical methods dramatically reduced the incidence of post-surgical infections and improved survival rates. His techniques were initially met with skepticism, but they eventually gained worldwide acceptance, ushering in a new era of safer surgeries.

Later Life and Legacy

Lister retired from clinical work in 1893 and spent his later years continuing to advocate for the principles of antiseptic surgery. He died on 10 February 1912. His legacy endures in the widespread adoption of antiseptic procedures in modern medicine, and his name is commemorated in the Listeria genus of bacteria.


Sir Joseph Lister's pioneering work in introducing antiseptic procedures in surgery marked a turning point in medical history, dramatically reducing surgical mortality rates. His contributions to medicine cannot be overstated, cementing his place as a fundamental figure in the evolution of modern surgical practices.


Latest articles - Joseph Lister

Clinical trials
Up To Date
Medline plus
You Tube
YouTube videos
Apple bitten.svg

WikiMD is the world's largest, free medical and wellness encyclopedia edited only by professionals.


Navigation: Wellness - Encyclopedia - Health topics - Disease Index‏‎ - Drugs - Rare diseases - Gray's Anatomy - USMLE - Hospitals

Ad: Tired of being Overweight? Try W8MD's insurance physician weight loss
Philadelphia medical weight loss & NYC medical weight loss.

WikiMD is not a substitute for professional medical advice. See full disclaimer.

Credits:Most images are courtesy of Wikimedia commons, and templates Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY SA or similar.

Contributors: Admin, Prab R. Tumpati, MD