Joseph Yossi Tam and the Endocannabinoid System

CiiTECHLABs key researcher Prof. Joseph Tam has a rich history in cannabis research and development including the effects that cannabis has on the endocannabinoid system. His many publications and involvement in cannabis research has been recognized globally and his expertise is a driving force in the new developments of CiiTECHLabs, a joint venture between CiiTECH LTd. and the Herbew University in Jerusalem.

Cannabidiol and its utility is a popular topic amongst researchers. Joseph Yossi Tam, DMD, PhD is the Director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research associated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His lab is responsible for a number of papers on the topic. 

Joseph Tam

Tam was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Petach Tikva. He received his degree in dentistry, his MSc, and his PhD at the Hebrew University. He has a long history of interest in the sciences, including working at Bio-Technology General Ltd in addition to obtaining his advanced degrees. His research spans across a wide field of interests, including skeletal remodeling, traumatic brain injuries, alcohol abuse, and obesity and metabolic syndrome. He has recently focused on the endocannabinoid system and how it may be related to the treatment of obesity and its metabolic consequences. He has won 20 awards for his academic work and teaching excellence. 


As stated above, Tam’s recent research has focused on obesity and the endocannabinoid system. In particular, he has focused on the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R). For example, his study on Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) and CB1R demonstrated the link between the endocannabinoid system and obesity. By studying mice models and individuals with PWS, his team concluded that dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system and the CB1R may contribute to hyperphagia and obesity. In particular, they found that peripheral CB1R antagonists reduced body weight, reduced hyperphagia, and improved severe obesity, including its metabolic consequences. 

Tam has also explored the possibility of using the peripheral endocannabinoid system to avoid adverse effects associated with use of the central endocannabinoid receptors. Historically, the endocannabinoid receptor antagonists have been recognized to reduce hyperphagia and the development of metabolic syndrome associated with obesity. However, the use of centrally acting antagonists was halted due to centrally mediated adverse effects. Tam’s work has established that peripherally acting CB1R antagonists are also effective in reducing food intake and body weight, both in animal models and humans. 

His current projects include studying leptin and the peripheral endocannabinoid system and signaling pathways in the hepatic CB1R in hepatic steatosis. This continues his previous interest in studying CB1R in specific organs, like the kidneys. 


By the breadth of his work, Tam appears to be a researcher that examines whatever topic he is interested in. Over the course of his career, some topics may seem unrelated. One commonality, however, is that he seemingly researches topics with a practical, rather than purely theoretical, intent. Each experiment is designed to draw him – and the entire field – one step closer to using CB1R antagonists as a treatment for obesity.


Joseph Tam, DMD, PhD is the Director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research associated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research has practical and theoretical implications. His work has contributed to the understanding of obesity, the relevant endocannabinoid receptors, and the options for treatment. From specific syndromes to obesity generally, from specific organs to the entire body, his broad area of interest might impact how health professionals approaching treating obesity.

Works Cited

Elucidating the role of proximal tubular cb1 receptor in Obesity-induced renal dysfunction. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Exploring the signaling pathways activated by hepatic cb1 receptor in Obesity-induced hepatic steatosis. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hirsch, S., & Tam, J. (2019). Cannabis: From a Plant That Modulates Feeding Behaviors toward Developing Selective Inhibitors of the Peripheral Endocannabinoid System for the Treatment of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. Toxins11(5), 275. doi: 10.3390/toxins11050275

Identifying the role of the peripheral endocannabinoid system in leptin resistance and Obesity. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Knani, I., Earley, B. J., Udi, S., Nemirovski, A., Hadar, R., Gammal, A., … Tam, J. (2016). Targeting the endocannabinoid/CB1 receptor system for treating obesity in Prader–Willi syndrome. Molecular Metabolism5(12), 1187–1199. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.004

Seltzman, H. H., Maitra, R., Bortoff, K., Henson, J., Reggio, P. H., Wesley, D., & Tam, J. (2017). Metabolic Profiling of CB1 Neutral Antagonists. Methods in Enzymology Cannabinoids and Their Receptors, 199–215. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2017.06.025

Tam, J., Szanda, G., Drori, A., Liu, Z., Cinar, R., Kashiwaya, Y., … Kunos, G. (2017). Peripheral cannabinoid-1 receptor blockade restores hypothalamic leptin signaling. Molecular Metabolism6(10), 1113–1125. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2017.06.010

Udi, S., Hinden, L., Earley, B., Drori, A., Reuveni, N., Hadar, R., … Tam, J. (2017). Proximal Tubular Cannabinoid-1 Receptor Regulates Obesity-Induced CKD. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology28(12), 3518–3532. doi: 10.1681/asn.2016101085

Udi, S., Hinden, L., Ahmad, M., Drori, A., Iyer, M. R., Cinar, R., … Tam, J. (2019). Dual inhibition of cannabinoid CB 1 receptor and inducible NOS attenuates obesity‐induced chronic kidney disease. British Journal of Pharmacology177(1), 110–127. doi: 10.1111/bph.14849

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