Dr. Rebecca Buckley was born in 1933 in Hamlet, North Carolina. She graduated with an A.B. from Duke University in 1954 and an MD from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1958, and she then continued her training and became a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Buckley studied pediatric allergy with Dr. Susan Dees in the Division of Pediatric Allergy at Duke, and was the chief of the division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology from 1974 to 2003.
Dr. Buckley studies and maintains a remarkable success rate with a surgical technique for babies with severe combined immunodeficiency, or "bubble boy disease," which enables significant numbers of SCID babies to develop normal immune systems through the removal of T-cells from donor bone marrow. Dr. Buckley was named the J. Buren Sidbury Professor of Pediatrics in 1979, a position she continues to hold currently; she was the first female at Duke Medical School to be given a distinguished professorship. Dr. Buckley has written extensively, served on numerous committees, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, and has been given many awards, including the William G. Anlyan Lifetime Achievement Award from the Duke Medical Alumni Association, in 2006.