Essam Assali studies in the MD/PhD track in the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research is in the field of metabolism. Essam focuses on targeting the mitochondria – tiny organelles in our cells that act like power plants. When excess nutrients are provided, the mitochondria will drive the cell to store them in form of fat, leading to obesity. To treat obesity and its related diseases, we need to “convince” them to burn nutrients and dissipate energy in the form of heat. Unlike the white adipose tissue, where cells warehouse nutrients in the form of fat, in the brown adipose tissue cells burn fat and generate heat in response to cold. In order to reduce the body’s metabolic efficiency and make it waste energy without the stimulus of cold, Essam is looking at novel molecular mechanisms that can induce the thermogenic capacity of the brown adipose tissue by calcium signaling, so that if that tissue becomes more active than the white tissue, obesity and the diseases it causes may be reduced.