Noe grew up on a farm in central Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology at Goshen College and a master's at West Virginia University. From there he completed a Ph.D at the University of Minnesota, studying protein synthesis in monkfish at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts to isolate the precursor protein involved in the production of glucagen. After another year in a post-doctoral fellowship in Minnesota, Noe moved to Atlanta, Georgia to join Emory University's anatomy department in 1972.
Noe was promoted at Emory to assistant professor and full professor in the 1980s and asked to oversee the department's graduate studies program. From there he took over as head of an experimental interdisciplinary graduate program in biomedical sciences as an associate dean. He was named interim dead of Emory's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and accepted the invitation to come to UAB shortly afterward. He was appointed dean on November 1, 2005.
As head of UAB's graduate school, Noe improved communication and updated thesis and dissertation requirements. He also expanded interdisciplinary opportunities and mentorship programs.
- McKinney, Julie (December 3, 2014) "Retiring UAB Graduate School dean tells 'unusual story' of his career path" UAB Graduate School Newsletter