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Joseph Lister Baron Lister

  • Joseph Lister

    Joseph Lister

    Source: Reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

  • Joseph Lister

    Joseph Lister

    Source: University of Glasgow

Born 5 April 1827, England.
Died 10 February 1912.

The surgeon who transformed operating practice with his system of antiseptic surgery.

Connection to the University of Glasgow: Graduate, Honorary Graduate, Professor
GU Degree: LLD, 1879;

Discover more surgeons on the University of Glasgow Story website


The following achievement is associated with Joseph Lister Baron Lister:

Introducing anti-sepsis in the operating theatre
Joseph Lister promoted the idea of sterile surgery, introducing carbolic acid (phenol) to sterilise surgical instruments and to clean wounds, which led to a huge reduction in post-operative infections and made surgery safer for patients.


The following honours are associated with this person:


Joseph Lister, Baron Lister (1827-1912), developed his revolutionary system of antiseptic surgery while Professor of Surgery at the University from 1860 to 1869. Lister House Hall of Residence is named for him.

Lister was born in Essex and became a surgeon in 1853. He became visiting surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1861, the year after he became Professor of Surgery at the University. In 1865 he began experimenting with the use of carbolic acid as a barrier against infection in cases of compound fractures at the Royal.

In 1869 Lister left Glasgow to become Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of Edinburgh. Eight years later he was appointed Professor of Surgery at King's College, London. He was awarded a peerage in 1883.