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Alexander Ogston
Born 1844
Aberdeen, Scotland
Died 1929
Aberdeen, Scotland
Residence Flag of Scotland.svg Aberdeen
Nationality Flag of Scotland.svg Scottish
Fields Surgery/Bacteriology
Institutions Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Alma mater University of Aberdeen
Known for The discovery of Staphylococcus aureus

Sir Alexander Ogston KCVO MB CM MD was a Scottish surgeon, famous for his discovery of Staphylococcus aureus. He was born in Aberdeen in 1844 and died there in 1929.[1]


University of Aberdeen

Ogston began his medical training at Marischal College in 1862 and graduated in 1865 with honours in medicine and surgery. He obtained his MD a year later in 1866. He was Assistant Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Materia Medica, Lecturer in Ophthalmology and Anaesthetist before being appointed as Regius Professor of Surgery in 1882.[2 ] He is credited with introducing the carbolic spray to Aberdeen.[3]

Staphylococcus aureus

During his undergraduate studies, Ogston had learnt of Louis Pasteur's experiments with microorganisms and had observed first-hand Joseph Lister's use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic. Ogston postulated that abscess formation was caused by a microrganism. He viewed pus under a microscope and observed chains and bunches of cocci. When the pus was introduced into experimental subjects, an abscess developed, containing the same cocci that could be demonstrated in the original abscess.

Transmission electron micrograph of Staphylococcus aureus

The chains of cocci had already been identified and named Streptococci — Ogston therefore named the bunches he observed Staphylococci after the Greek word staphyle, meaning "bunch of grapes". Due to their golden colour, he named the organism he observed Staphylococcus aureus.[4]

Military career

Ogston served in the 1884 Egyptian War and the Boer War. He was also instrumental in arguing for the creation of the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1898. During the First World War when over seventy years old, he was sent to assist with the management of severe trauma.[5]

Royal acknowledgement

In 1892, Queen Victoria appointed him Surgeon in Ordinary, a post he also held under King Edward VII and King George V. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1912.


The Surgical Society of the University of Aberdeen is named the "Ogston Society" in his honour.[6] The University Department of Surgery also awards an annual prize in his honour to the best student in surgery.[7]


  1. ^ Smith G (1965). "Alexander Ogston (1844-1929)". British Journal of Surgery 52 (12): 917–20. doi:10.1002/bjs.1800521203. PMID 5322135.  
  2. ^ Lyell A (1989). "Alexander Ogston, micrococci, and Joseph Lister". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 20 (2 pt 1): 302–10. doi:10.1016/S0190-9622(89)70035-9. PMID 2644319.  
  3. ^ Pennington TH (1988). "The Lister steam spray in Aberdeen". Scottish Medical Journal 33 (1): 217–18. PMID 3291113.  
  4. ^ Ogston A (1984). "“On Abscesses”. Classics in Infectious Diseases". Reviews of Infectious Diseases 6 (1): 122–28. PMID 6369479.  
  5. ^ Adam A (1998). "Alexander Ogston and the Army Medical Services formation of the Royal Army Medical Corps 1 July 1898". Scottish Medical Journal 43 (5): 156–57. PMID 9854306.  
  6. ^ "Sir Alexander Ogston". Ogston Society.  
  7. ^ "Endowed Prizes and Medals". University of Aberdeen. Retrieved 2007-02-22.  


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