Dr. Joanne A. Peebles Wilson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and was valedictorian of Cardinal Gibbons High School. She graduated with a B.S. in chemistry with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1969 and with an M.D. from Duke in 1973. Dr. Wilson was the second African-American woman to graduate from Duke University School of Medicine. She also served as President of medical student body and was elected to AOA.
After her graduate training in Boston, Massachusetts (Peter Bent Brigham) and Washington, D.C., she joined the staff of the University of Michigan Medical Center as a gastroenterologist. She returned to Duke as a faculty member in 1986, serving as Associate Professor and Associate Chief of Gastroenterology for outpatient services of Duke University Medical Center. In 1995, she became the second woman in the Duke Department of Medicine to achieve the rank of full professor.
Dr. Wilson was the first woman and first African American to serve as secretary of the American Gastroenterological Association (1997-2003) and served on the organization's board. She has served in numerous capacities within Duke and beyond, serving on committees and advisory boards regionally and nationally. She is widely published and has won numerous awards, including the Trailblazer Award from the Duke Student National Medical Association in 2007. She was named one of the AGA Outstanding Women in Science, 2008.