Girtanner was not one of the shining lights of either medicine or pediatrics; rather a stormy petrel, he achieved notoriety in several directions. Of his life, comparatively little is known. He was born on November (or December) 1, 1760, in St. Gallen; he studied medicine and received his degree at Göttingen, and then started to practice in his native town. Seized by a desire for travel, he had a Wanderjahr through Switzerland, France and England, after which he returned to Göttingen and gave private lectures without having any official connection with the University. He became interested in politics and wrote on various political topics, but especially on the French Revolution, which he was against.
He is perhaps better known in medical history for a bit of plagiarism in the matter of Brown's system. While on his travels he evidently studied some in Edinburgh, and becoming familiar with the ideas of