Geek Of The Week: Joseph Lister

Geek Of The Week: Joseph Lister

Joseph Lister was a British surgeon and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. He promoted the idea of sterile surgery while working at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Lister successfully introduced carbolic acid (now known as phenol) to sterilise surgical instruments and to clean wounds.

Applying Louis Pasteur’s advances in microbiology, Lister championed the use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic, such that it became the first widely used antiseptic in surgery. He first suspected it would prove an adequate disinfectant because it was used to ease the stench from fields irrigated with sewage waste. He presumed it was safe because fields treated with carbolic acid produced no apparent ill-effects on the livestock that later grazed upon them.

Lister’s work led to a reduction in post-operative infections and made surgery safer for patients, distinguishing himself as the “father of modern surgery” and yes Listerine is named for him.

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avatar MIKE: A geek who currently works as a Biologist and has an extensive science background. He is an avid user of HPC systems used for scientific research in the Washington DC area. Mike's working knowledge of using computers to solve problems brings a unique viewpoint to the podcast.