For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Dr. Frank Ferrone

Frank A. Ferrone, PhD

Department of Physics
Office: Disque Hall, room 922
Phone: 215.895.2778


  • PhD, Physics, Princeton University, 1974
  • AM, Physics, Princeton University, 1971
  • BS, Manhattan College, 1969

Curriculum Vitae:

Download (PDF)

Research Interests:

  • Sickle cell
  • Protein self-assembly theory
  • Molecular crowding
  • Novel optical methods
  • Microscopy
  • Kinetics


Professor Frank Ferrone has a passion for discovering the principles of how things work, a love well realized in a career in Physics. In an age when the atmospheres of planets orbiting distant stars can be deciphered, it is remarkable that the physics of the molecules that underlie the biology of our very lives is still not fully understood. This inspired Professor Ferrone to focus his research on Biological Physics, much of that investigating sickle cell disease in which he is a recognized world expert. This inherited blood disorder leads to shortened lives with frequent intense pain episodes. Meanwhile, its physical mechanisms are shared by a range of maladies including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and type 2 Diabetes. Its study not only has immediate benefits, but also provides insights of a more fundamental sort.

Following his BS in Physics from Manhattan College, Ferrone obtained his AM and PhD in Physics at Princeton University, and then taught there for a year as an instructor. After two successive NIH-funded Fellowships, as an extramural Fellow at Princeton and then an intramural Fellow at the NIH, he came to Drexel. His unique experimental optical studies contributed to being honored as a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

The interdisciplinary nature of Biophysics has led to Dr. Ferrone’s joint appointments into Drexel University's School of Biomedical Engineering and the College of Medicine, with successful and ongoing collaborations with faculties of both. That interdisciplinarity also played a role in his appointment for a time as a Senior Associate Vice Provost of Research.

His teaching is fueled by the abiding need to explain things, once understood. This has led to the development of several courses, as well as innovations to maximize course effectiveness. Whether working with graduate students –having mentored over a dozen PhDs– or undergraduates, there are always new discoveries to be made, whether it’s inventing the world’s fastest and cheapest test for sickle cell disease, recognizing how human walking represents a controlled fall, or realizing how best to explain the concept of entropic forces to a class of sophomore Biology majors.

Selected Publications:

Most recent

  • Brown, CD, Aprelev, AM, Aliprando,M,  Harkness,EA, and Ferrone FA (2021) The flow of sickle blood in glass capillaries: Fundamentals and potential applications Biophys J  120(11):2138-2147 
  • Rotter MA, Jiang J, Ferrone SM, Ferrone FA. (2018) Water, Ions, and Hemoglobin: Effects on Allostery and Polymerization. Phys Chem B. 122(49):11591-11597 
  • Ferrone, FA (2018) Targeting HbS Polymerization in Seminars in Hematology, 55 (2), 53-59   
  • Ferrone, FA (2018) Solid nuclei and liquid droplets: A parallel treatment for 3 phase systems. Protein Sci. 27(7):1286-1294
  • Cellmer T, Ferrone FA, Eaton WA. (2016) Universality of supersaturation in protein-fiber formation. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 23(5):459-61

Most cited

  • S Chen, FA Ferrone, R Wetzel (2002) Huntington's disease age-of-onset linked to polyglutamine aggregation nucleation, Proceedings of the National Academy of sciences 99 (18), 11884-11889614
  • F Ferrone (1999)  Analysis of protein aggregation kinetics, Methods in enzymology 309, 256-2745981999
  • FA Ferrone, J Hofrichter, WA Eaton (1985)  Kinetics of sickle hemoglobin polymerization: II. A double nucleation mechanism, Journal of molecular biology 183 (4), 611-631549
  • FA Ferrone, J Hofrichter, WA Eaton (1985) Kinetics of sickle hemoglobin polymerization: I. Studies using temperature-jump and laser photolysis techniques, Journal of molecular biology 183 (4), 591-6102581985
  • FA Ferrone, J Hofrichter, HR Sunshine, WA Eaton  (1980) Kinetic studies on photolysis-induced gelation of sickle cell hemoglobin suggest a new mechanism, Biophysical journal 32 (1), 361-3802551