If the nomination is approved by the WHO's executive board Thursday, Chan will become the first representative of China -- and the first woman -- to become WHO's chief technical and administrative officer.
The previous director general, Dr. Lee Jong-wook, died in May.
WHO officials said Acting Director General Dr. Anders Nordstrom will continue in that role until a new director general assumes office.
Chan, a former director of the Hong Kong Health Department, was considered the front-runner among a list of five finalists that included candidates from Japan, Kuwait, Mexico and Spain. Chan defeated second place finisher Julio Frenk of Mexico by 10 votes, taking 24 of the executive board's 34 votes, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Chan has been serving as the WHO's top communicable diseases official. Her term as WHO director general is expected to run until July 2012.