Thomas R. Ward was born in Fribourg on January 8th 1964 as the last of 6 children of John E. Ward and Ada Lovinger Ward. He received his diploma in Chemistry in 1987 from the University of Fribourg with organic chemistry as major and inorganic chemistry as minor subjects.
From 1988 to 1991, he was a doctoral student in the group of Prof. L. M. Venanzi at the ETH Zürich in close collaboration with Prof. D. Seebach. His PhD thesis dealt with the synthesis and coordination properties of C3-symmetric phosphine ligands and their use as acetalization catalysts. This work benefited from a fruitful collaboration with Ciba Geigy which patented these systems.
Fascinated by group theory, he joined the group of Prof. R. Hoffmann at Cornell University as a Swiss National Science postdoctoral fellow (1991-1992). This theoretical excursion lead him into the fascinating field of heterogeneous catalysis: Why is rhodium so efficient at removing NO from car exhaust?
Soon after returning to Switzerland for a second postdoc in the group of Prof. C. Floriani at the University of Lausanne, he was awarded the A. Werner Fellowship and moved to Berne to undertake his independent career in Fall 1993. He obtained his Venia Legendi in 1999 and moved to the University of Neuchâtel in Fall 2000. After seven years spent at the University of Neuchâtel, he moved to the University of Basel in March 2008. The group research is centered on the exploitation of proteins as host for organometallic moieties with applications in catalysis as well as in nanobiotechnology.
He is happily married to Anouck and both are very proud of their three superb children: Benjamin Roald (1994), Samuel (1996) and Elise (1999).
Thomas R. Ward was awarded the ETH Medaille (1991), the A. Werner Fellowship (1993) as well as the A. Werner Prize (1998) and a Swiss National Science Foundation Förderungsprofessur (2000). In 2005, he was awarded the medal of the Czech Academy of Sciences for his research on artificial metalloenzymes based on the biotin-avidin technology. In 2016, he was awarded an advanced ERC grant to realize his DrEAM: the Directed Evolution of Artificial Metalloenzymes. In 2017, he was awarded the RSC Bioinorganic Chemistry Award. In 2021, he was awarded the ACS Catalysis Lectureship as well as the International Symposium on Bioorganometallic Chemistry Award for his contributions to the development of artificial metalloenzymes.
He is the director of the NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering.