Leadership Team

Meet Our Leadership

The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center is led by an interdisciplinary team internationally recognized for their work in the wellness field.

  • Daniel Bessesen, MD

    Daniel Bessesen, MD

    Daniel Bessesen, MD - Director & Professor

    Daniel Bessesen, MD, is director of the Center, is professor of medicine of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes at CU, the director of fellowship training in endocrinology and the director of the Clinical Intervention and Translation Core of the NIH-funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center.

    Dan received his MD with honors from CU. He completed residency and fellowship training at CU and has been on CU’s faculty since 1991.

    Dan, who conducts studies in dietary fat metabolism, appetite and the clinical problem of obesity, has published more than 90 scientific articles and book chapters and is the coauthor of three books, including Treatment of the Obese Patient published in 2014.

  • Luciana Smith, MSO, MCPH

    Luciana Smith, MSO, MCPH

    Luciana Smith, MSO, MCPH - Director of Finance & Administration

    Luciana has been with the University of Colorado for over 15 years. In her role as Director of Finance & Administration for the center, Luciana is responsible for cohesive operations of the clinic, fitness center and programs in line with the overall vision and mission of AHWC.

    Previously, Luciana served as the clinic director of the CU Wellness Clinic at AHWC. She also worked in the Pediatric Clinic at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes before moving into the division manager role with the Department of Surgery to support the GI, Bariatric, Trauma, General and Oncology surgeons, and assisted with the first multi-disciplinary surgical oncology programs at the University of Colorado Hospital Cancer Center. Additionally, she managed the academic affairs, recruitment and clinical income for the division. From there she become the Director of Ambulatory Services at UCHealth, where she worked with more than 50 ambulatory practices on room utilization and clinic workflows, and innovating process improvement tactics for increasing patient access.

    Luciana has four boys ages 2-20 years old. She enjoys climbing in the summer and climbed four 14ers in one day with her husband to celebrate their 14thwedding anniversary several years ago! She enjoys running and ran the Boston Marathon in 2013, and has also been accepted to run the NY Marathon November 2019.  She enjoys teaching the violin and piano to local community students and families to help cultivate the fine arts in rural communities.

  • John C. Peters, PhD

    John C. Peters, PhD

    John C. Peters, PhD - Professor & Chief of Strategy and Innovation

    John Peters, a leading researcher and strategist in nutrition, obesity and diabetes, is charged with developing groundbreaking research and programming in nutrition, exercise and healthy behavior.

    Prior to joining CU, he spent 26 years in food and beverage, health care, and corporate new business research and development for Procter & Gamble Company.

    He is also involved in public health initiatives promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors. He is co-founder and chief executive officer of America on the Move and past president of the International Life Science Institute Center for Health Promotion. Peters has published over 130 scientific papers and reviews and co-authored The Step Diet book.

  • Paul MacLean, PhD

    Paul MacLean, PhD

    Paul MacLean, PhD - Professor

    Education & Certifications

    • BS/MS, Brigham Young University
    • PhD/Fellowship, East Carolina University

    Areas of Specialization

    • Director, NORC
    • Research focus on understanding metabolic consequences of obesity and weight loss
    • Obesity impact on breast cancer, mammary gland development and lactation
    • Obesity impact in menopausal transition

    Personal Notes

    • Research director, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes
    • Director, CORI Energy Metabolism Program
    • Associate director, Nutrition and Obesity Research Center’s Metabolic Core and Energy Balance Laboratory

  • Nancy Nickless, MPA

    Nancy Nickless, MPA

    Nancy Nickless, MPA - Manager of Finance, HR, and Operations

    Nancy joined the University of Colorado in 2014 as a sponsored research administrator specializing in subcontracts, pre and post-award accounting, human resources and operations management for both the Office of Grants and Contracts and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.  With strategic goals in mind, Nancy ensures fiscal compliance, excellent customer service, and fosters a positive workplace culture.

    Some of Nancy’s past work experience includes working at Arapahoe Community College (ACC) as the Supervisor of Student Financial Services and later established ACC’s Veteran program, to include writing and receiving a grant for Veterans’ while earning Program of the Year by the State Board of Education.  Nancy currently sits on three boards (Palos Verdes Civic Association, Centennial Council of Neighborhoods (CENCON) and Treasurer for National Christ Child Society) and has become an advocate for the smart development of her city of Centennial.

    Nancy is responsible for the Finance, Grants & Contracts, Building Operations, Human Resources – along with the Center’s School of Medicine consultant, AHWC information technology and audio/visual and supporting the NORC (Nutrition Obesity Research Centers) http://cunorc.org/.

    Nancy and her husband, Paul have three kids (Jacob 25, Luke 23, and Natalie 22) one dog and three chickens. She enjoys life with adult children and spends time working in the yard, hiking with girlfriends and her dog Lucy, and reading good books.


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Fitness Center: 303-724-WELL (9355)
Wellness Clinic: 303-724-9030

12348 E Montview Blvd.
Aurora, CO 80045

Fitness Center Hours

M-TH: 5am-10pm
FRI: 5am-9pm
S-S: 7am-5pm