Executive Board

Silke Mader - Chairwoman of the Executive Board

Silke Mader is the Chairwoman of the Executive Board and co-founder of EFCNI. In 1997, her twins were born in the 25th week of pregnancy, and were not given the appropriate care. Unfortunately, one of them died a few days after birth. During her time in hospital and afterwards, Silke Mader was faced with the non-existence of support of any kind, the absence of public awareness and the lack of information and education for parents during pregnancy. Her motivation is to prevent parents from making similar experiences in such painful situations. As the conditions throughout Europe are distressingly similar and preterm children urgently need a voice within Europe and worldwide, she decided to take on the role of chair on the Executive Board of EFCNI.

Silke Mader is co-editor of the EFCNI Benchmarking Report “Too little, Too Late? Why Europe Should do more for Preterm Infants”, “Caring for Tomorrow” – the EFCNI White Paper on Maternal and Newborn Health and Aftercare Services and technical editor of the “Born too Soon” Global Action Report on Preterm Birth. Besides this, Silke Mader is author and editor of many other publications on topics related to maternal and newborn health.

In 2012 Silke Mader was awarded the “Prix Courage” by ZDF television programme “ML mona lisa” in cooperation with the cosmetics company Clarins. 2013 she received the Medal for Particular Services to Bavaria in a United Europe. Since 2014 she is Honorary Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 2015, Silke Mader has been awarded as social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow and in 2016 she received the Bavarian State Medal for Services concerning Health and Long-term Care.

Senior Medical Director

Professor Luc J.I. Zimmermann joined EFCNI in October 1, 2019.

He is Professor of Paediatrics and Neonatology at the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences at Maastricht University (the Netherlands) since 2003 and Program Leader of Reproductive and Perinatal Medicine in the Research Institute Oncology and Developmental Biology-GROW (since 2006).

As a Belgian, he studied medicine and did his paediatric training at the University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, Belgium. After his fellowship in neonatology at the Hospital for Sick Children and the combined Perinatal fellowship program of the University of Toronto, Canada , he worked as a staff neonatologist and later Chief of the Division of Neonatology at the Sophia Children’s Hospital, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In 2003 he moved to Maastricht and worked as a staff neonatologist (2003-2019), Chief of the Division of Neonatology (2005-2017) and Chairman of the Department of Paediatrics (2006-2019) at Maastricht UMC+.

He is past president of the European Society of Paediatric Research (ESPR) and board member of several other societies. Since 2017, he was a member of the Trustee Board of EFCNI (till he started working for EFCNI).

From an early stage in his professional career he developed a distinct research interest on the development of the preterm lung, on which he did his PhD and continued his further research. His research topics have widened in the last several years.

As Department Chair of Paediatrics, he worked with his staff on a strategic plan for academic family integrated care. In the past, he has been involved with EFCNI in many ways, such as the common start of the Joined European Neonatal Societies (jENS) conferences, the launch of the white paper and action reports at the European Parliament, the standards of care project, the RSV position paper, and as a trustee member of EFCNI. He is very pleased to collaborate more and to start working for EFCNI as he believes in the mission and aim “to improve the situation of mothers and newborn infants in Europe across the full spectrum of care, promoting and protecting the right to the best start in life”.  An important element to achieve this goal will be the implementation of the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health.

Nicole Thiele joined EFCNI in 2010 and holds the position of Vice Chair of the Executive Board. She is a Fellow of the European Patients’ Academy (EUPATI), has a diploma as European Secretary/ESA and holds a university degree in Economics, Management and Business Administration. Living and working abroad has provided her with extensive experience in different positions within multi-national companies.

With her family experiencing the consequences of an extremely preterm birth nearly 50 years ago, she is personally committed to driving forward the prevention of preterm birth, the continuous improvement of treatment and care as well as the philosophy of family-centred developmental care and parental involvement, to give every baby the best start in life.

Nicole Thiele has developed a variety of educational and information materials and is author, (co-)author and (co-)editor of several publications on the topic, e.g. of the EFCNI White Paper on Maternal and Newborn Health and Aftercare Services – “Caring for Tomorrow”.