In 1804 he obtained his medical doctorate from the University of Halle, afterwards working as director of Count Razumoffsky's botanical garden in Gorenki (near Moscow). In 1808 he produced a catalogue of plants of the garden. In 1823 he was appointed director of the imperial botanical garden in St. Petersburg by Alexander I. Here, he was involved with establishing a herbarium and library, as well as the planning of numerous scientific expeditions into the interior of Russia. During his final years, he served as a medical councillor for the Ministry of the Interior.