Germ Theory and Its Applications to Medicine and on the Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery by Louis Pasteur
(Great Minds Series)

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Before the introduction of antisepsis and inoculation, people commonly died due to unsanitary conditions in the home, or following surgery or childbirth. Between them, the great scientists Louis Pasteur (1822-1893) and Joseph Lister (1827-1912) extended widely the practice of inoculation and revolutionized medical practice. Pasteur's discovery that living organisms are the cause of fermentation formed the basis of the modern germ theory. Following Pasteur's researches, Lister proceeded to develop his antiseptic surgical methods. These breakthroughs in medicine are to be reckoned among the greatest discoveries of the nineteenth century.

About Louis Pasteur

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The son of a tanner, Louis Pasteur, whose name is immortalized in the household word "pasteurization," was a French microbiologist who discovered and developed the concept of vaccination. The product of a classical education, he spent his university years at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, where he specialized in chemistry. His first university appointment was to the science faculty of Universite de Strasbourg. He also served at other universities before the creation of the Institute Pasteur in Paris, which he directed until his death. Pasteur's life was dedicated to medical research, and he achieved phenomenal success in attracting the finances required to support those efforts. He was among the earliest physicians to patent his discoveries and to demonstrate their value to society, both avenues producing additional revenue for his diverse research projects. Pasteur made major contributions to fields as diverse as crystallography, structural chemistry, fermentation, and silkworm diseases. He discredited the concept of spontaneous generation, proving it erroneous. His overall contribution to science was substantial largely because of his passionate commitment to the principle of application of research results. Pasteur's accomplishments demonstrated the vast medical and economic potential of experimental biology and led to improvements in industry as well as in medicine. Born in Upton, Essex, England, Joseph Lister was a British surgeon and the founder of antiseptic surgery, one of the most profound advances in medical care. He also was the first physician to be made an English lord. Lister's discoveries and the resulting doctrines and practices "transformed the ancient craft of surgery into an enlightened art governed by scientific disciplines" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). He received his medical training at University College, London, graduating in 1852, about the time that anesthesia was being perfected. After graduating, he became house surgeon to James Syme (whose daughter he married in 1856) at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Lister recognized the extraordinary promise of anesthesia but was troubled by the septic conditions under which surgical operations were being performed. With the advent of anesthesia, the number of operations rose dramatically, as did the problem with sepsis. In the 1860s, Lister became aware of the work of Louis Pasteur, who had demonstrated that tissue putrefaction actually is fermentation. Lister experimented with a variety of substances before attempting to "cleanse" a wound with crude carbolic acid. His early efforts were so promising that he then spent a year perfecting a carbolic acid dressing for surgical wounds. His work was reported in the scientific press and at scientific meetings, notably those of the Royal Society, of which he was president from 1895 until 1900. By the late 1860s, his "antiseptic principle" had been widely adopted. Lister did not write any books but published widely in prominent medical and scientific journals.
Published May 1, 1996 by Prometheus Books. 144 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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