Joseph Lister, English founder of antiseptic surgery, early 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912) first started to experiment in antiseptic surgery by using carbolic acid, a well known disinfectant, to soak his surgical gauze and instruments. This allowed surgeons to be able to carry out complex surgery without patients developing fatal infections. Lister published his theories on an antiseptic system in 1867. He also made important discoveries on the microscopical investigations of inflammation and the coagulation of blood. He was made a baronet in 1883 and became a peer 14 years later.