He can expertly recreate organs, veins, skin and body parts out of clay and silicone, complete with robotic mechanisms underneath the skin of the dummies so that they are responsive to practicing clinicians.
"Simulation technology is the perfect overlap in the Venn diagram of special effects and robotics," Loan said. "We make artificial patients, highly sophisticated robots that look, feel and respond like real patients."
Medical dummies have to do more than just look and feel realistic; they have to be made of materials that mimic skin and other tissues closely enough that scalpels can pass through them if need be.
His secret recipe for realistic looking pus? Filling from a Dunkin' Donuts Boston cream doughnut.
Sometimes the work involves 3-D printing individual organs with specific deformities so they can be studied before surgery.
"So many conditions in pediatrics are unique, so if we can create a 3-D printed model of the organ the doctors are going to operate on, and we can get it as close to truth as MRI or CT data will allow, they can perform surgery on the model first," Loan said.
"They could do a dozen practice procedures before they ever meet that kid in the operating room, and that's amazing."