Surgeon. Although born in Upton (Essex) and educated at University College London, much of Lister's career was spent in Scotland. He trained under James Syme (1799 - 1870) in Edinburgh, whose daughter he married in 1856. He was appointed Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow (1859) and then to the Regius Chair in Edinburgh (1869). He founded modern antiseptic surgery, pioneering the use of carbolic acid together with heat-sterilisation of surgical instruments. Through these methods, he was able to dramatically reduced the number of post-operative deaths due to infection.
He was honoured with the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1898.
In 1877, Lister was appointed to the Chair of Surgery at King's College Hospital. He died in Walmer (Kent).