Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister

Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, OM ( born April 5, 1827 in Upton, Essex, † February 10, 1912 in Walmer, Kent ) was a British physician. He made a name for himself as the "father of antiseptic surgery ".


Joseph Lister came from a wealthy Quaker family in Upton, Essex. His father was Joseph Jackson Lister, a pioneer of optical microscopy. Lister studied from 1846 to 1852 in London, first art, but then switched quickly to medicine ( excited by his presence at the public demonstration of anesthesia by Robert Liston ), and in 1852 obtained, 25 years old, Bachelor of Medicine. In 1855 he became a member ( "Fellow" ) of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and house surgeon ( House Surgeon ) at the Royal Infirmary and assistant to the Regius Professor of Surgery James Syme ( his father ). From 1860 he was Regius Professor of Surgery in Glasgow, in 1869 Regius Professor of Clinical Surgery at Edinburgh University and in 1877 Professor of Clinical Surgery at King's College London.

Concurrent with his appointment as Regius Professor in Edinburgh, he was also successful against an abscess when staying at Balmoral Castle Surgeon to the Queen in Scotland and treated Queen Victoria.

1856 married Joseph Lister, the daughter of the surgeon James Syme, Agnes Syme.

After the death of his wife in 1892, on a holiday in Italy, he retired from practice, but still advised from time to time, for example in the appendectomy of King Edward VII shortly before his coronation in 1901.

It lies in the cemetery at West Hampstead ( Hampstead Cemetery ) buried.


Much of his pioneering work in antiseptic medicine originated in Glasgow in the 1860s, where he was a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary in addition to his professorship. He was influenced by the writings of Louis Pasteur about germs as the cause of fermentation and putrefaction, the 1865 made ​​him the Professor of Chemistry in Glasgow Thomas Anderson attentive. The use of phenol (then called " carbolic acid " ) for odor control in waste water in the city of Carlisle and its use in the new system of sewers in Paris by Georges- Eugène Haussmann gave Lister the idea in surgery and wound medicine with phenol to experiment. First, a phenol solution was nebulized during and after operations on the surgical field, so that the hands of the doctors, the instruments and the surgical wound were wetted with a bactericidal film. To 1867, he provided the first wounds with dressings soaked in phenol (Lister shearing Association ). He also led sidelines from Glasgow to London, 1877, the first operation of a fresh patella fracture under antiseptic precautions by and started the antiseptic bone surgery along with his former colleagues Glaswegian Sir Hector C. Cameron.

By the phenol is remaining in the federation and on wound surface bacteria were effectively killed, new germs no longer came to the wound surface; Therefore, the wound healing was uneventful and quick. Lister developed from the first selective use of phenol systematic hospital hygiene. Frequent hand washing the doctors and nurses with phenol solution and the use of rubber gloves showed lasting effect. With the introduction of disinfection of instruments and associations accidental and surgical procedures associated with hospital stays lost its terror. The patient mortality rate decreased rapidly. According to the findings of Ignaz Semmelweis introduced the Lister's research on the groundbreaking principles of asepsis and antisepsis in healthcare. In addition, Lister discovered the milk clotting causing streptococci. After microscopic studies he realized the inadequacy of silk and thread as suture material; he introduced the still common today surgical use of catgut.


Lister was awarded in 1878 by the University of Edinburgh the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine, in 1879 and 1880 by Oxford and Cambridge doctoral degrees rights. In 1897 he was elevated to the title of Baron Lister of Lyme Regis in the hereditary nobility. From the Royal Society, he was awarded the Royal Medal in 1880 and 1902 with the Copley Medal and was the first surgeon as President ( 1895-1900 ). In addition, he was awarded the British crown the Order of Merit as one of the 12 members at the first ceremony. He was an honorary citizens ( Freeman ) from Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. In 1905 he was a Fellow in honor of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

In his honor is awarded by the Royal College of Surgeons of England since 1924, the Lister Medal for achievements in surgery. A statue in Portland Place in London and in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow remembers him. According to him, a pathogenic bacteria ( Listeria, by JHH Pirie 1940) and a building in the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow named. In January 1902 Robert Falcon Scott honored him as part of his Discovery expedition with the naming of a mountain ( "Mount Lister ") in the Royal Society Mountains ( Antarctica ).


  • Minute structure of the involuntary muscular fiber, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Volume 21, 1857, pp. 549-557
  • On the early stages of inflammation, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society ( London), Volume 8, 1858, p 581
  • Observations on Ligature of arteries on the antiseptic system, Churchill and Sons 1870 ( reprint from The Lancet, Volume 1, April 3, 1869, p 451).
  • A Contribution to the Germ Theory of Putrefaction and Other Fermentative Changes, and to the Natural History of Torulae and Bacteria, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Volume 27, 1875, pp. 313-344
  • On the Nature of fermentation, the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, New Series, Volume 18, 1878, pp. 177-194
  • On the lactic fermentation, and Its Bearings on Pathology, Transactions of the Pathological Society of London, Volume 29, 1878, pp. 425-467
  • Joseph Lister 's first publications on antiseptic treatment of wounds: (1867, 1868, 1869), J. Barth, Leipzig 1912 ( Sudhoffs classics of medicine, publisher Friedrich Trendelenburg ). In particular, are reprinted here: On a New Method of Treating Compound Fracture, Abscess, etc., With Observations on the Conditions of Suppuration, The Lancet, 1867, 1, pp. 326-329, 357-359, 387-389, 507-509, and 1867, 2, pp. 95-96
  • On the Antiseptic Principle in the Practice of Surgery, The Lancet, 1867, 2, pp. 353-356, online at Harvard Classics
  • On the Antiseptic Treatment in Surgery, British Medical Journal, 1868, 2, pp. 53-56, 101-102, 461-463, 515-517, and 1869, 1, pp. 301-304