Joseph Mougous is a microbiologist recognized for his work elucidating the molecular mechanisms of interbacterial interactions. He is particularly known for discovering that a widespread bacterial secretion system functions as a cell-cell toxin delivery pathway. His group has characterized many notable toxin substrates of the pathway and they have elucidated how cells protect against their own toxins and those of competing cells. Joseph was born and grew up in rural western Washington. He graduated from Western Washington University in 1999 with a degree in chemistry, and from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005 with a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology. He conducted postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 2007. He is an member of the American Academy of Microbiology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Research Interests

Joseph Mougous's laboratory is interested in the mechanisms and consequences of interbacterial interactions. Identifying antibacterial toxins and elucidating their mechanism of action is one focus of the laboratory. Bacterial toxins are often fascinating proteins that perform highly specific, sometimes exotic functions with high efficiency. The Mougous Laboratory is interested in how these incredible molecules evolve, how they can be co-opted by other organisms, and even how toxins can be repurposed as therapeutics and research tools. The Mougous Laboratory has also uncovered a number of parallels between the toxins bacteria use to promote disease in humans and those that they employ against each other. The response to interbacterial antagonism is a second focus of the laboratory. Ongoing work seeks to understand both toxin-specific defenses, as well as pathways that recognize classes of insults and respond with the activation of repair mechanisms. The mammalian intestinal microbiome is a medically relevant bacterial consortia where many of the factors investigated by the Mougous Laboratory converge; thus, a third focus of the group is interrogating the consequences of interbacterial interactions in this setting.

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Primary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology