Joseph Lister, by the introduction of antiseptics, and James Young Simpson, by the introduction of anaesthesia, changed medicine forever and made modern surgery possible.
Born in Essex, Lister made his radical advances during his 20 years as Professor of Surgery in Glasgow and then in Edinburgh. Acting on Pasteur's and Koch's work on bacteria as a cause of infection, he used carbolic acid (phenol) to disinfect his surgical instruments and the air and surfaces of the operating theatre. This spray is believed to have been used in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. A jet of steam, generated by a paraffin-heated reservoir attached to the spray, drew the carbolic acid from the cotton-filled chamber at the front of the device as it was propelled outwards.
Lister later moved from antiseptic surgery, in which bacteria are killed off, to aseptic surgery in which the bacteria are excluded all together by sterilizing the surgical instruments and other methods. He was the first medical man to be raised to the peerage.