Dr. Mougous performed his graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley in the laboratory of Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi. His thesis focused on the biosynthesis and role in virulence of sulfated glycolipids produced by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. John Mekalanos at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mougous studied protein secretion in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The Mougous Laboratory studies the interactions of bacteria with each other and with their hosts. The outcome of interbacterial interactions impacts humans in many ways, such as whether or not a given pathogen is able to invade via a non-sterile site like the human gastrointestinal tract. Many interactions between bacteria involve toxins that one cell injects into another. A major focus of the Mougous Laboratory has been to identify such toxins and to elucidate their activity. These toxins are fundamentally fascinating molecules, but their study also provides insights into protein trafficking and potentially reveals new ways of eradicating unwanted bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria also utilize secreted factors that directly target host cells. These proteins allow pathogens to hijack host processes to promote their survival and proliferation. The Mougous Laboratory is interested in defining and characterizing such molecules, with the long-term goal of better understanding how environmental bacteria evolve into pathogens of complex organisms.