Frati was born in Siena in 1943 and studied in Milan where he obtained a B.A. in medicine from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. He became known for his research activity in studies relating to the analysis of a protein that facilitates the proliferation of cells in the epidermis. Later he became a full professor at Sapienza and was made chair of general pathology in its faculty of medicine. He was a member of the Consiglio Universitario Nazionale (‘National University Council’) from 1980 to 1998, and was dean of his faculty for the 16–18 years leading up to 2008. On 3 October 2008 he was elected rector of the university.
Frati has come under fire for nepotism because of three members of his family holding chairs in the same university . According to a BBC report: "Professor Frati has [...] overseen the promotion of his wife from being a local high school history teacher, to becoming Professor of Medical History. His daughter also gained a post as Professor of Legal Medicine - without any specific medical education. And his son was made an associate professor in cardiology aged just 31, one of the youngest Italians to gain such an appointment."
- "Nepotism alive and kicking in Italy". BBC. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
|Rectors of the Sapienza University of Rome