Joseph Lister "Cut Open"

Intro To Modern Surgery

Early Years

Josephs Interest in science started at young age. His father was a wealthy wine merchant who developed an achromatic lens for the microscope. This sparked his want do microscopic research.

After graduating from the University of London he went on to become a professor of surgery at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow.

Early Medicine


During this time surgery was almost unheard of. When people broke a bone the doctors tended to amputate it and cavities such as the head, chest, abdomen etc... were never opened. A lot of people died from infection.


Josephs research was centered around the microscopic changes in tissue that resulted in inflammation. He learned that inflammation was the result of germs entering and developing in the wound.

Later that year he read in a newspaper about how when a sewage was treated with carbolic acid it had led to a reduction of diseases among the people of Carlisle.

He then thought what if i did this with wounds. He developed a successful method of applying purified carbolic acid to wounds. Joseph then protected the technical details of antisepsis and continued his research.

This was huge. Antisepsis became a basic principle for developing surgeries and after amputations became less frequent along with death from infection.

Later Years

He returned back to his home town and appointed professor of surgery at King's College in London. He won worldwide acclaim and honors such as honorary doctrines and a baronetcy, and a peerage.

He even had a product named after him. Listerine disinfectant which eventually became a mouthwash.

Works Cited

"Joseph Lister." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.