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Joseph Lister (GB)

The stamp

This stamp was issued in Great Britain in 2010 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Royal Society.

It shows a photograph of Joseph Lister and a cartoon of his carbolic acid being sprayed.

The doctor

Joseph Lister was born into a Quaker family on 5 April 1827 in West Ham in Essex. Because he was a Quaker, he could only study medicine at University College London. He worked with James Syme in Edinburgh then became Professor of Surgery in Glasgow, returning to Edinburgh in 1869 as Professor there. In 1881, he moved to King's College Hospital in London. 

After reading the work of Louis Pasteur, Lister experimented with various ideas to reduce surgical wound infections. He invented the method of antisepsis using carbolic acid to wash hands and instruments, and to spray over the operating field.

He was made a Baronet (Sir Joseph) in 1883, and then a Baron (Lord Lister) in 1897.

The urology connections

Obviously, Lister’s contributions to antiseptic surgery were vital to the progression of all surgery, including urology, but he also designed a type of urethral dilator (Lister's sound) which is still used today.

Lord Lister also features in our Medal Cabinet, depicted on the obverse of the 1913 International Medical Congress Medal; click here to see the exhibit

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