Special Sub-Topic: Sir Joseph Lister
|Joseph Lister entered the University College of London in 1844. At that time, this university was the only one in England that claimed "religious neutrality." To attend other universities in England, it was necessary to swear an oath to the king's church, as well as supply doctrinal forms, be tested, or otherwise prove that you were affiliated with the proper church. Why was this significant to Lister?|
He was a Quaker.. Joseph's family was in the Society of Friends, a Christian group created in England during the 17th century. They were formed after people started becoming dissatisfied with the Church of England. He was raised in a Quaker setting. Making an oath of this type would go strongly against his family's Quaker religious beliefs. Since the University College of London was nonsectarian, it was sometimes referred to as the Godless College. In the other universities, the education was arranged to include the church's teachings and opinions on the subjects.
|Some medical views were drastically changing around the time Lister entered school. One practice had been considered unethical for some time. In Lister's time students were finally allowed to do it. What was this practice?|
human dissection. Up into this new era in medicine, human dissection was punishable by death. The material students had been learning from was sometimes obsolete by hundreds of years. The Greek physician Galen (129 to 216 AD)was the relied upon standard in physiology for centuries. It wasn't until human dissection became more prevalent that it was realized Galen's work had been based on animals, such as monkeys and dogs.
|Lister married Agnes Syme, the daughter if his fellow researcher James Syme. They traveled Europe. After the honeymoon, they settled in and resumed researching. Where did they call home for most of their marriage? |
Scotland. They originally settled in Edinburgh, where he was the assistant surgeon at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Nine years later, in 1859, they moved to Glasgow. There, Lister filled the position of Regius Professorship of Surgery at Glasgow University. He changed positions again in 1861. Glasgow Royal Infirmary made him accountable for the new surgical building and designated him surgeon.
|Lister had noticed that infection rates were not as high in work areas that were kept clean. He wasn't exactly sure why this was. In dirty areas, the rates of septicemia, erysipelas, and pyemia were a huge problem. What did these conditions become collectively known as?|
hospitalism. Hospitalism was the cause of the catastrophic hospital mortality rate. It has been said hospitals of that time were somewhere you went to die, not to recover. The problem was that no one really knew what caused it. Experienced surgeons were reluctant to listen to knew ideas. Surgeries only had about a 50% survival rate due to the strong risk of infection. This was a period of time doing something like breaking your arm could put your life at risk.
|Lister was good friends with Louis Pasteur. They followed each others work and built from it. Lister and Pasteur started to realize how important it was to keep surgical sites clean. His contemporaries felt his extreme hygiene and utilization of antiseptics were a squander of time and exertion. What happened that caused them to start taking notice?|
the astonishing survival rate of Lister's patients. Lister had heard about the use of Carbolic Acid (phenol) to treat raw sewage. Although they were not sure as to why, the sewage odor was being removed. Lister began to experiment with it. He started using it to soak his sutures, clean his tools, soak bandages, and spray on wounds. The acid was strong and would leave some chemical burns behind on the skin, but suddenly people were living. The death rate of post amputation patients dropped in Lister's patients. Amputations went from about 40% mortality to about 3%. This was astonishing and the other surgeons now had to pay attention.
|Queen Victoria made a request of Lister that turned him into an advocate of another sort. What did she ask of him?|
Help put an end to animal testing.. Queen Victoria was disturbed by animal testing. One procedure common during that time was called vivisection. This was basically dissecting an animal while it was still alive. She asked Lister to put it to an end. Lister still felt there was a need for animal testing, but he did write letters campaigning for improved treatment of lab animals. In 1876, the Cruelty to Animals Act passed. For this service, as well as others, Queen Victoria knighted Joseph Lister in 1883.
|Joseph Lister was named for his father, Joseph Jackson Lister. His name was not the only thing his father gifted him with. He developed something that was used by Lister and many other researchers. What did his father pioneer?|
compound microscope. Hans Jansen and his sons are credited with making the very first compound microscope. Joseph Jackson Lister took this and built upon it. He overcame many of the more common problems, making it a finer more usable instrument. He published several papers. Some of his principles are still used as a standard today.
|In 1891, Joseph Lister formed and was chairperson of the British Institute of Preventative Medicine. Is this institute still in operation today?|
y. The name was changed to Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine, in Joseph Lister's honor. The Institute hit financial troubles in the 1970's, but recovered and is still running today.
|In the late 1800's, internal stitches were made from silk. A string from the stitches would be left protruding from the body. When it was time to remove the stitches, the string would be pulled from the outside. This often caused even more internal damage. What innovative idea did Lister have to solve this problem?|
dissolving stitches. Lister created many new techniques. Among these were naturally dissolving catgut stitches and rubber drainage tubing. He first introduced the use of rubber drainage tubing on Queen Victoria. He was personal surgeon to the queen for several years.
|Lister's wife, Agnes, died of pneumonia in 1896. Lister become disinterested in his work and entered a depression. In attempt to lift Lister out of this, his friends had persuaded him to try for yet another new position. What was it?|
secretaryship of the Royal Society. Although Joseph and Agnes had no children, they were said to have a very happy marriage. Her death came as a great personal blow to him. When he became despondent, his friends encouraged him to go after this position. He was appointed and accepted. Being active again in the scientific community seemed to revitalize him. He remained active until his own death of pneumonia in 1912. He was buried next to his wife in Westminster Abbey.
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