Our laboratory's goal is to understand how obesity and energy balance are regulated at the molecular level. Obesity develops when energy intake (i.e. calories) chronically exceeds total energy expenditure. All mammals, including humans, have two types of fat tissue: white fat, used to mainly store excess energy and found in the “problem zones” of overweight people and brown fat, used to burn calories and generate heat to maintain body temperature. Recent studies suggest that adult humans possess an inducible form of brown fat, called 'beige' or 'brite' fat at the back of their necks and along their spines. Intriguingly, beige fat cells can be converted from white fat cells following environmental cues like exposure to cold; however, the underlying mechanism is poorly understood. With the Pew award, I aim to understand beige cell development at the molecular level–specifically manipulating the protein PRDM16, which has been shown to have a role in beige cell development. If white fat cells could be directed to change into beige cells, which burn excess energy instead of storing it, an innovative strategy could be created to treat obesity and metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance.