Inventor: Joseph Lister
Famous Invention: Antiseptic
Lister, Ist Barron Lister as he later became known, was born April 5,
1827 into the home of a family of Quakers. His father was Joseph
Jackson Lister, well known for the improvements which he developed for
the compound microscope.
Young Joseph’s parents immediately decided
that he would enter into some aspect of the field of medicine so from
the very beginning of his education, this goal was kept in mind and his
educational pursuits chosen by his parents and teachers accordingly.
As a young student in the lower grades,
Joseph Lister received an extraordinary amount of tutelage in both
German and French. As a result he became quite fluent in both
languages. These languages were considered to be the leading languages
of medical research at the time.
As he advanced out of the primary classes,
Joseph Lister attended the Grove House School, where he studied
mathematics, natural science and languages.
As a young adult, Joseph Lister went to the
University of London where he first majored in the arts but then acceded
to his parents wishes and ended up graduating with an honors degree in
medicine and went on to attend the Royal College of Surgeons.
Up until the time when Lister began to
promote the use of carbolic acid to sterilize surgical instruments, it
was debatable which was the safest, to live with the ailment and hope to
get better or to be operated on.
As the practice of sterilizing surgical
instruments began to be used more and more, the death rate which one may
attribute to either the ailment itself or to the surgery with
unspecialized instruments began to go down.
Lister studied medicine as an assistant to
Dr. James Skyme at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Royal
Infirmary. It was while serving in this capacity that he met and fell
in love with Dr. Skyme’s daughter Agnes, whom he later married.
Agnes not only loved Lister but she shared
his love of medicine as well and became not only his partner in life but
his partner in the practice of medicine as well.