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Brainport’s Virtual Champion | Meet Jackie Schooleman

Born and raised in North Brabant, Jackie Schooleman is somewhat of a hometown hero. Jackie descends from a line of medical doctors and engineers. Her father hailed from Utrecht and later joined his father-in-law in a family medical practice in Veldhoven. She admits, “this is my destiny” as she finds her inspiration designing products for implementation at the intersection of medicine and engineering. Through her time growing and living in the area, she has borne witness to the evolution of the Brainport region and played no small part herself in its growing success and renown as a conduit of innovation and creativity.

Currently a freelance product designer, Jackie is an alumna and former instructor at the Design Academy. During her time at Eindhoven’s celebrated institution of creativity she pursued advanced education, travelling to the United States for further study at IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. At the time there were few options available locally for advanced study in her field. Bringing her expertise and newly acquired knowledge back to Eindhoven afterwards, Jackie was one of the early trailblazers that helped to create the diverse community of expertise we now take for granted in the Brainport region. After settling back in the Netherlands and graduating with honors from the Design Academy, Jackie began work as a contract designer and in 2004 founded Virtual Proteins, a company focused on the creation of virtual reality products specialized for the medical field. Her research, creativity and design resulted in groundbreaking technology used to assist doctors performing complicated and delicate procedures.

Using advanced 3-D technology, her Virtual Proteins product allows doctors to translate standard methods of evaluation, such as MRIs and CT scans into 3-dimensional models that can be rotated and manipulated to reveal previously hidden angles and details of the human body. “The 3-D engine is the base for all medical presentations”, she says. This technology can now be harnessed for use inside the operating room and diagnostic centers. Her product allows doctors to see inside the body with spatial and tactile clarity to the extent we have never seen. The technology pioneered by Virtual Proteins is also extremely fast loading and creates amazingly detailed images. The 3-D model generated is connected to the density of the tissue, bones, flesh, and skin. It allows the user to apply filters and colors as well to make the model as realistic and comprehensive as needed. Its use before and during medical procedures is instrumental to doctors and students to reveal details invisible on a 2-dimensional image. Using this tool it is possible to better assess the issues involved and the techniques required for various procedures.

Jackie’s innovative tool has been showcased and utilized all over the world. Always looking ahead to the next idea, she thrives on the interaction with users and enjoys being connected with other great minds, sharing ideas and collaborating on projects. A brief video presentation describing the Virtual Proteins product can be found here:

With an eye to science and a mind bent toward innovation and creativity, Jackie continues to be driven toward new ventures. “It’s about loving what you do”, she says. Her interest in medicine, love of nature, and passion for improving the world around her comes directly from her father who taught her these intrinsic values. “It is not about money, or status, but about life, love, interacting, and caring.”

These principles are leading Jackie to pursue future projects within and outside the medical field. She is currently designing a system to tackle and remediate the ever-growing problem of litter and debris polluting canals, rivers and other still waterways. Jackie’s design incorporates the floating modular systems currently in place in many area canals and partners them with a new strategy involving a simple collection device that can be employed by local residents. “You don’t always need high tech”, she says when describing her new idea. Her philosophy is to include the citizens living close to the canals as part of the solution. She believes that if the system is “accepted by the local environment and close to homes, people will be involved and happy.” They will be invested and actively contributing to the wellbeing of their own community and environment.

The Brainport region can take credit for launching many of today’s great innovators and their creations. Jackie Schooleman is a fine example of the kind of minds at work today within Eindhoven and its greater community. People like Jackie are working to improve our lives and local environment, while also spreading their impact globally. With continued growth and additional opportunities for collaboration the possibilities for innovation in Brainport are boundless

Written by Rory Williamson © Brainport Development